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2. Fifty Years in The Making of Australian History Volume II




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1. CHAPTER I

Another Battle For National Education—The Extreme Zealots and Their Mischievous Activity—Archbishop Vaughan and The Church of Rome—The New Measure Passed By Both Houses Triumphantly—The Successful Results of The Public School System.

EARLY in the life of my third Administration, the question of Public Instruction, after an experience of the working of the Act of 1866 extending over fourteen years, was again brought before Parliament. During those fourteen years several attempts had been made to alter the law, but all of them in the direction of making the education under it more secular and more directly a duty and function of the State. The course I pursued in Parliament in reference to these various motions exposed me to much misrepresentation, possibly to some honest misconception, as to my motives. I believed the compromise of 1866 was politic and wise, and was working with satisfactory results; and I contended that it could not be disturbed until it had had a


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fair trial, without the risk of injury to the many interests which must be affected by any change. In 1873 I defeated a resolution moved by Mr. William Forster, the object of which was to secularise the school system, by an amendment, approving of the operation of the Act, and declaring that any interference at the present time would be impolitic and prejudicial. Another motion of similar import was made in 1877 by Mr. David Buchanan. This I opposed by voice and vote, on the ground put forward on the former occasion, that it would be unwise to disturb the law as it stood. Other attempts of the same character were made, which I steadily resisted. The view I took of the state of the question, especially considered on grounds of policy, was that the mixed system was working well, and was withdrawn by the administration of the Council of Education from all political influence; that the larger denominational schools were doing good service in their kindred sphere in connection with the public schools, apart from and above their religious teaching; and that in any case it was premature to break in upon the system which was regarded with such widespread acceptance by the people.

One possible evil was never absent from my mind in contemplating the future growth of our school system—that those who were taught and religiously coerced by their spiritual guides to withhold their children from participating in its advantages, would gradually create for themselves a standing grievance, and by brooding over their self-imposed hardships, work themselves into a morbid belief that they were an oppressed


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class. True as it indisputably is, that the non-sectarian schools under the Act of 1866 were all, as they all are still under the law of to-day, open to the children of every creed alike, without the slightest ground for fear that the faith of any child would be tampered with, that acknowledged condition of equality and non-sectarianism does not diminish the lust of the priestly mind for authority over the parents through the training of the children. The religion of Christ suffers the little children to come to the schools, but the denominational fetich of the ecclesiastics forbids it.

In my speeches in opposition to the empirical efforts of extremists to amend the Act of 1866, I foretold that whenever they began to unsettle, others, with far different ends in view, would join in the work of unsettling. And it was evident, from many circumstances of the hour, that those who were most hostile to the Act on the ground of its non-sectarian character rejoiced in secret at the assaults made upon it by the extreme secularists. In the opposite direction, the fanatical secularists, while professing to condemn, could not conceal their delight at the flame kindled by the denominationalists, as tending to promote public dissatisfaction.

One of the spasmodic motions to which I have referred was made on June 18, 1875, by Mr. George Richard Dibbs, in the following words: ‘That in the opinion of this House, a Bill for the amendment of the Public Schools Act of 1866 should be introduced, and that such Bill, among other matters, should provide for the discontinuance, upon reasonable notice, after a


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certain period to be fixed by law, of assistance from public funds for denominational schools.’

I spoke in opposition to this motion, pointing out in some detail the eminent success which had attended the operation of the Act during the nine years up to that date, and dwelling upon the advisability and sound policy of avoiding serious conflicts of religious feeling or the aggravation of any sense of injustice, however misconceived we might deem it. The following are passages from my speech, which I give because they supply the principal text on which the charges of inconsistency and denominationalism have been made against me by the extreme secularists:—

I now come to a very difficult part of the subject, and a very delicate one—I mean the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church in relation to this subject of public instruction. My views upon this matter are well known, and I have no occasion in any way to modify those views. I am bound, however, to recognise the fact that a large body of men and women in this country, numbering one-third of the whole population, are members of the Roman Catholic Church. Whatever their views may be, they are subjects of Her Majesty in the same political sense as are the rest of the population; they live under the same laws as we live under; they pay their share of the same taxes; they bear their equal part of the public burdens; and they are bound by the same obligations as their fellow-citizens. Well, it is said that the Roman Catholic body, as a matter of conscience, will not send their children to schools where they will not be instructed as Roman Catholics. On the other hand, it is said that the State will provide public schools for them where denominational instruction is shut out, and that, if they do not like to send their children to those schools, it will be their own fault. That is a fair representation of what seems to be required by the Roman Catholics on the one hand,


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and of the arguments of the Secularists on the other. But these purely secular schools will be paid for out of the public revenue, and the Roman Catholics will be required to contribute as much to the revenue as those who make use of the schools. Most persons in this country are sufficiently well off to make sacrifices when their consciences are inflamed with zeal for the maintenance of their principles, and the Roman Catholics here will do as the Roman Catholics in Victoria are doing—turn their backs upon your newly-organised public schools, and provide separate schools for themselves. While the Roman Catholics support their own schools, they will at the same time be compelled to pay towards the support of the schools you set up for the other classes of the population, and to which they refuse to send their children. Call it what you will, this will be felt as nothing short of oppression. I believe that the persons who are united in this crusade, if it may be dignified by that name, form two broad sections—those who are opposed to religion altogether, and those whose sectarian views have been heated to such a degree that they want to force all others to their own standards of belief. I will take the Orange point of view, which supposes that Roman Catholics are a kind of creatures who ought to be swallowed up, having been first grilled by a sufficient heat of public agitation. The Orange-man looks upon the Roman Catholic religion as a great evil in the world; but, by the course you propose, you will bring up in these separate schools the very extreme types of the Roman Catholic. You will have the Catholics of the next generation learning to hate all other classes, and cherishing a spirit of hostility against society, springing from a keenly-felt, though, perhaps, a magnified, grievance, having to pay for the education of other people's children at the same time that they bear the entire burden of paying for their own. Instead of the spread of enlightenment and the reconciliation of classes, bringing all into one bond of union, we shall be erecting an iron wall to keep classes apart, and we shall have Catholics of that extreme political and party type which has never yet been seen in this colony. The grievance, once rooted in the minds of the Roman


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Catholic body, will find advocates for redress in quarters least expected. Men of education and of large sympathy in all parties will side with those who suffer injury; and in the course of time we shall have a reform of this state of things which will be a violent rebound, working out results entirely opposite to those which in your blindness you are aiming at. The thing itself is essentially unjust. So long as we appropriate the revenues of the country for the purposes of education, we have no right to apply them in a way that will exclude a large proportion of the population from the benefits of the expenditure. I admit that if a case of necessity could be proved, then we might be justified. But the necessity cannot be proved. The system of education in this country is so sound, so comprehensive, that it includes all classes, and in consequence there is no necessity for creating these serious heart-burnings in one portion of the population.

In this language I endeavoured to put myself in the place of the objectors, and at the same time I had in view the hard secular character of the schools sought to be created by the fierce advocates of the ‘secular, compulsory, and free.’ I put myself right in this respect in the following brief sentence: ‘I certainly do not go the length of anything like unqualified sympathy with the special objects of the body represented by the honourable member for West Sydney (Mr. Dibbs), and I certainly have no sympathy with the maintenance in this country of purely denominational schools.’ I urged that it was the wisest course in the interest of all classes and sects to continue the system which embodied the compromise of 1866, and concluded as follows:—

I believe that on this question especially we ought, as far as we can, to respect the convictions and associations, and even the prejudices, and what we may regard as the unsound opinions of


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all persons; and unless the necessity for a contrary course can be proved beyond doubt, we shall be acting most wisely and safely by maintaining a system which all, more or less cordially, can accept and support. It would be a wiser policy and a higher patriotism on the part of honourable gentlemen to endeavour to improve the administration of the law instead of tinkering with its machinery—to try to extend the blessings which are practically in our hands to a wider area, instead of seeking new and untried means for their dispensation. This might be done in many ways. It might be done by introducing improved books; by instituting adult schools and night schools; by establishing school libraries, and various means by which instruction could be imparted more generally, and instruction of a higher class given without any detriment to anyone, or any objection from any quarter. It would be infinitely wiser to use the machinery already in existence, and extend the advantages of education more generally, than, for the sake of some theoretical aim, to agitate for changes which will involve great cost and produce no higher educational results. In addressing these observations to the House I have done so in the sincere belief that the wise course is to go on in the more active administration of the present law—improving the means of instruction as much as possible, extending the schools to every part of the country where they are required, raising the character of the teachers by every means in our power; and by taking this course we may hope to attain results which will be equal to those of any country, and we may fairly expect to carry with us the confidence and support of nearly all classes of the population.

Mr. Dibbs's motion, after several attempts at adjournment, was negatived by twenty-four to ten, inclusive of three pairs. The system was destined to be changed in consequence of assaults from a very different quarter. Mr. Dibbs himself lost his seat at the General Election which soon followed his motion, and he did not return


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to the House until 1883, when the work of educational reform had been accomplished.

My speech was published in separate form by some persons who approved of it, and widely circulated. A copy of it was sent to the Governor of Queensland (Mr. Cairns), which led to the following correspondence. My letter to Governor Cairns still further explains my views on the subject of primary education under the control of Government.

Government House, Brisbane, August 16, 1875.

My dear Sir,—I have read with very great interest, and with profit, your speech on the Education question, of which you were kind enough to send me a copy.

This very question is exercising the public mind here, at the moment of my writing, yet I doubt if it can be satisfactorily settled at the present time. Some of us are not quite in earnest, and some others appear not to know their own minds, are wanting in what the French call idées arrêtées on the subject.

Believe me, yours sincerely,

W. W. CAIRNS.

Henry Parkes, Esq., &c. &c.

Ashfield, near Sydney, August 23, 1875.

My dear Sir,—I thank you for your note of the 16th, and am gratified by the evidence it affords of the interest you take in the question of education as now agitated in these colonies.

The danger to a wise settlement of the matter in any case seems to me to consist in the off-hand treatment which it receives from persons who have thought little on the subject and whose vision is too often limited by the political exigencies of the moment. A system of popular education is not like a steam-engine, which, if well constructed and well tended, will necessarily do its work well. Its action on the mind is rather


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like that of the atmosphere on human life, which acts very differently on different organisations and may be easily vitiated by latent and undetected influences. That system will prove to be the best which supplies instruction of the highest quality, and is most freely accepted by the whole people.

Strictly, it would be difficult to prove that it belongs to Government to take charge of the education of the people. The argument of Lord Macaulay for the interference of Government is perhaps the soundest, that the power which has the right to hang has the right to educate, but it is by no means conclusive, because education does not of itself remove the necessity for hanging. If Government is justified in interfering on the ground that it is expedient to supply in the best manner the means of education of the best quality, it is bound to keep those objects steadily in view, and they can be best effected by conforming as nearly as possible to the circumstances and conditions of family life.

The system most perfect to the theorist may not be the most healthful in developing the human faculties. It will be the less so the more it dispenses with parental authority or weakens the sense of parental responsibility. What ought to be aimed at is rearing the best type of men and women for the duties of a well-ordered State.

I hope you will pardon these general observations on what is a work of much greater difficulty, even under the free constitutions of Australian life, than some of my contemporary legislators appear to think. In this colony we have, in my judgment, hitherto been fortunate, both in hitting upon a system of education which is attended by sound results and is generally acceptable, and in securing the services of able men for its administration.

I take the liberty of sending you the Act and Regulations, and also a copy of the last report of the Council of Education.

I remain, my dear Sir,

Yours very truly,

HENRY PARKES.

His Excellency Governor Cairns, &c. &c.




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Four years later, in June, 1879, the Archbishop and Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, without provocation and in the face of the support which had been given to their state-aided schools, published a joint pastoral letter in which they furiously attacked the public schools of the colony as sources of a ‘godless education’ and as ‘seedplots of future immorality, infidelity, and lawlessness.’ The clergy were urged to stir up their people to the deadliest hostility against the schools. They were to ‘bring before the minds of parents the terrible calamity to their children in exposing them to loss of faith and morals, and endeavour to make them feel that they could not do a greater service to religion or to the State than to upset, by constitutional means, a system which, whilst it is a crying injustice to themselves, promises to be a source of incalculable evil to the colony.’ The pastoral embodied a sweeping condemnation of State education from Pope Pius IX., and concluded with this appeal: ‘Let Catholics rouse themselves up to a sense of their responsibilities; let them bring legitimate pressure to bear in the right quarter; and never cease in their persevering—their organised importunity, until they have obtained those rights which no man can refuse them without self-evident injustice.’

There can be little doubt that Archbishop Vaughan had by his overwrought zeal so brought home to his mind the evil consequences of our public school teaching, that he calculated upon awakening the sleepy thousands of discontented parents all around him. His people were enjoined to use ‘constitutional’ means, and


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to bring ‘legitimate’ pressure to bear in the right quarter, but these words of restraint were scarcely consistent with his stormy call to arms. And, unfortunately for his impassioned argument in favour of denominational teaching, we had the results of the two systems side by side in the records of those institutions which are the ugly outgrowths of the vicious dispositions in all communities. I had myself a few years earlier accompanied the Governor of the time, the Earl of Belmore, on a visit to Merrima Gaol—a prison about eighty miles from Sydney — where long-sentenced prisoners are chiefly confined, and the severest treatment carried out. The Roman Catholic chaplain came to me in the presence of the Governor to complain that his salary was not equal to that of the Church of England chaplain. If my recollection serves me aright, there was a difference of about one-third in amount. I told Father Lynch that the matter had never been considered by me; that the salaries stood as I found them on entering upon office; but that I supposed the difference arose from the Anglican chaplain being the representative of the more numerous body. ‘How can that be?’ was the reply; ‘I have a much larger number of my people here than he has.’ I do not care to disfigure these pages with the official returns, but they fully substantiate the truth of the answer to me so unwillingly made by Father Lynch. If anybody complains of this reference, let it be remembered that the Roman Catholic prelates plunged into the conflict in 1879 by denouncing our public schools as ‘seedplots of future immorality, infidelity, and lawlessness.’




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The Archbishop followed up the Joint Pastoral with a series of letters of his own, commencing August 10, and concluding October 12, 1879. The first ended with the following appeal to Catholics to act with unity of purpose, zeal, and self-sacrifice.

Whilst the world becomes infidel around her, the Church will remain firm. Left to herself, to her own resources, the deep faith, the devoted generosity of her people, become the instruments of her power, and the secret, as in America, of her success. If her prelates fearlessly preach the Gospel in all its fulness; if they warn and direct their children, unbiassed by what the world may say, she cannot but succeed, she must advance, and will subdue her enemies by her courage, her truthfulness, and, above all, by her gentleness and charity towards them. With Archbishop, Bishops, Priests, and People united on the great question of Education, she will, though it may take some years, finally obtain what she asks for, and her children will not be kept under a disability for being Catholics.

The second letter opened with the following paragraph:—

Though the Catholic Church is by far the most formidable opponent of the great apostasy, still she is not its sole opponent. Her foes themselves, if they possess any sound heart of Christianity, are compelled, in self-preservation, to set themselves against it. Nor does it follow from their being at one in this, that they are mutual friends; because two men, for their own private reasons, hate a third man, that does not even tend to prove that they love each other. Those who profess the Catholic Faith, and those who protest against that faith, can, for causes known to themselves, and those causes may be radically different, strike out against one and the same antagonist. Thus, the Catholic Church and the English nation, whilst conflicting with each other, are compelled, by force of principle, to resist the advances of the great apostasy.




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And it thus concluded:—

Dearly Beloved, we have the strongest faith in the sense of fair play in the minds of our fellow-colonists. We are convinced that, when they really grasp our case, they will be ready to give us all we ask. We merely beseech those concerned so to arrange that a large section of the community, the Roman Catholics, some say one-third of the population, may give their children a thorough, honest Catholic education, and receive for secular instruction, tested by Government inspectors, equal assistance with those who are satisfied with public schools.

In his third and fourth letters, the Archbishop expended much ingenuity in employing statistical arguments to prove, that in America, and in those countries of Europe where National Education had advanced with most rapid strides, the principle had in reality most lamentably failed in producing good results. In his fifth and final letter, he consoled himself with the following expression of his belief, that the merits of his cause would bring over to him good and patriotic men from all other churches, who would enthusiastically join him in securing to him and his fellow-religionists a full share of the public revenue on their own terms.

True, the nation by its representatives has for the moment adopted the present system; but a system is not necessarily national because the nation has adopted it. Otherwise, even the most sectarian system, provided one nation had adopted it, would be equally national with one eminently the reverse, which had been adopted by another nation. No! National means embracing fairly and equitably all the units of which the nation is composed, and punishing none, making ‘political slaves’ of none on account of their conscientious religious principles.

Things may be worse before they are better; but the day will come when justice and fair play will triumph in this land:


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when great bodies of Christians, who now seem half asleep, will bestir themselves, and when the nation will reject this wretched Sectionalism and give happiness and peace to every honest man by adopting in its place a genuine system of National Education.

Of course others followed the Archbishop's lead; some of the more pronounced zealots in the Church of England enlisted under his banner, and newspaper scribes were not wanting with their belligerent trumpetings.

Mr. A. Stuart, afterwards Sir Alexander Stuart, K.C.M.G., in the Synod of the Church of England declared: ‘I am not ashamed to be at one with the Church of Rome in this matter; we have the same civil rights, and we cannot help being side by side with our Roman Catholic fellow-citizens in demanding a continuance of those rights.’ But Mr. Stuart, soon afterwards, was ‘not ashamed’ to suppress his fierce denominationalism when it was found to stand in the way of his political purposes.

But the most signal effect of the Archbishop's bravery was the springing up of armed men in his path. In answer to his trumpet-call came the uplifted arm and the impending blow. ‘What does it all mean?’ was on men's lips; ‘what does the Archbishop want more than his Denominational Schools under the present system?’ Public gatherings, crammed to the door long before the hour of meeting, with many hundreds outside, orators with their strokes of eloquence at white heat, the indignation of journalism contagious throughout the land. What the Secularists had failed to do by their many motions, the Archbishop and his associate bishops contrived to do by one blind move.




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I had not long returned to office, and my hands were full in many ways; but I felt that the time was come when the field, in which I had laboured and patiently watched for fourteen years, must be re-surveyed. I felt in common with tens of thousands of my fellow-colonists that a wanton and libellous attack had been made upon our schools. The situation under these new circumstances was brought before my colleagues in cabinet, and after much consultation it was decided to introduce a Bill to repeal the Act of 1866, to establish a Department of Public Instruction in place of the Council of Education, to withdraw all Government aid from schools not under the absolute control of the Government, and to carry out reforms and improvements in the School system which had been proved to be advisable and necessary.

The new Bill was brought in on November 5, 1879, and, on account of its great importance, I copy my explanation of its principal provisions when moving in Committee of the whole House for leave to introduce it:—

‘Sir Henry Parkes moved that the committee agree to the following resolution:

That it is expedient to bring in a Bill to make more adequate provision for public education.

He said: I shall not trespass beyond my duty in simply stating the main provisions of this Bill, and I shall scrupulously avoid any matter of argument, for it appears to me undesirable that any discussion should take place at this stage. The Bill I ask leave to bring


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in will repeal the Public Schools Act of 1866. It will not create any council or board in place of the existing Council of Education, but it will transfer the whole of the powers connected with the administration of the grants voted by Parliament for public education to the Responsible Minister. So far as the Bill will make new provisions to supply the wants of education, it will provide for the immediate establishment of grammar schools in three of the principal towns, with provision for the extension of this higher means of education to other districts on proclamation. It will also provide for the establishment of one or more higher schools for girls, to be extended as the circumstances of the population may warrant. It will also provide for the establishment of night schools—in such places as circumstances seem to point out as requiring them—to be conducted entirely under the same provisions as are now applied to public schools. These are the principal directions in which I ask the House to assent to new legislation for creating new means of education. With regard to public schools, the Bill proposes to reduce the minimum from twenty-five to twenty, so that wherever twenty children are found in regular attendance a fully organised public school may be established. The Bill proposes in connection with all school buildings where there is a regular attendance of fifty children, to erect a class-room suitable for the clergy or other persons to give separate religious instruction; and it proposes to provide that in every district the arrangements for this religious instruction, separate from the school, shall be left to private agreement between the teacher and the


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clergyman, or other duly appointed religious teacher in the district. Much inconvenience has been found from the circumstance that the law fixes one particular hour in the day for religious instruction; and to obviate that difficulty it is proposed that, subject to such agreement as may be entered into between the person in charge of the school and the clergyman of the district, any hour of the school day may be selected for that purpose. Provision will be made for the children of one denomination being separated from another denomination, and for their being taught by their own religious teacher for one hour at such time as may be arranged between the teacher and the clergyman. But the Bill will provide that parents may restrict their children from attending this religious teaching whenever they think proper to do so. The Bill itself will enact that a History of England and a History of Australia shall form part of the course of secular instruction in every school. There will be a provision giving to the Government the power to compel the attendance of children, but this provision will only be applied to proclaimed districts, so that it may be applied to one district where it is found necessary, and not to another, where it may be inapplicable. In other words, it may be gradually applied, as circumstances warrant, to the whole colony, and thus the machinery which would be necessary for the sudden application of the principle throughout the whole colony will not be required, but much more workable and economical machinery will be employed for the purpose. It is not intended to make education free, but it is proposed to take a step which will, it is


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believed, fully satisfy every person in the country. It is proposed to reduce the fee to a uniform rate of 3d. for each child up to four children, and for four or any larger number not to require a higher amount than 1s. from the same parent. It is thought that this very low rate can be paid by everybody, and, while it will enlist the sympathy and interest of the parents of the country with the school system, it will at the same time produce a considerable amount of revenue—calculated at not less than 30,000l. The Bill will provide that from and after a date fixed by law all aid from the Consolidated Revenue shall be withdrawn from denominational schools. It will also propose to enact that any denomination may surrender its school before that date, and that, if the building be suitable for the purpose, the Government shall take it over and convert it into a public school. These are the main provisions of the Bill which I ask leave to introduce.’

A debate ensued on the motion for leave to introduce the Bill, and some strong sentiments in opposition were expressed, but no division was called for. I moved that the Bill be read the second time on November 20. After recapitulating the leading facts of my own course of action in relation to the cause from the year 1854, when I entered the Legislature, I referred to the motions which had been made time after time in the Legislative Assembly by the advocates of a more exclusively secular system, and I thus spoke of the latest of these motions:—

Another motion was made as late as last year by the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr. Greenwood), than whom, I


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admit, no member has a greater right to propose any motion on this subject of public instruction. Again I stepped in to defend the existing compromise, and moved then as an amendment that a committee be appointed to enquire into the working of the law. That motion was got rid of by some means which I do not now exactly remember. Throughout all these years, whenever any attack was made from a secular point of view by those who based their arguments upon their objections to denominational schools, I have defended those schools—that is, as they were recognised by the Public Schools Act. Well, it cannot be denied, and the facts I have adduced from the records of Parliament are sufficient to prove, that attempts have been repeatedly made for an amendment of this law; but they have, as far as my recollection serves, been made in nearly every instance in the direction of more secular modes of instruction. Whenever, up to the present time, these attacks have been made, I have felt it my duty to defend the existing law.

I then gave the following explanation of the results up to that date, and dwelt briefly on the causes which had led to so decided a change in the policy of the Government:—

I find that on January 1, 1867, when the Act came into operation, the number of National Schools which were taken over from the old Board, and which then became Public Schools as a commencement of our present system, was 159. The number of Public Schools to-day is 671, showing an increase of 512. Many of these are schools of considerable dimensions, carried on in well-erected and well-ventilated buildings, and all, I believe, are conducted by trained teachers. What has been the result of the operation of this Act in regard to denominational schools? The denominational schools to which certificates were issued by the new Council in 1867 numbered 310; the denominational schools to-day, holding certificates from the Council of Education, are 156, showing a reduction of 154 during that period. Besides these results, there are in existence


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to-day 300 provisional schools and 102 half-time schools. I have a return from the secretary to the Council of Education showing what these various schools are doing at the present time. The 671 Public Schools have on their rolls 62,546 children, with an average daily attendance of 40,370. The provisional schools, 300 in number, have on their rolls 7,629 children, and have an average attendance of 5,195. The half-time schools, 102 in number, have on their rolls 1,672 children, with an average attendance of 1,159. The 156 denominational schools have on their rolls 22,487 children, with an average attendance of 14,258. The entire schools under the Council of Education number 1,229; they have on their rolls 94,334 children, with an average attendance of 61,002. I may repeat what I have said at different times, that the progress made is a fair evidence of the success of the system, and of the magnificent work it is doing in all parts of the country. We have trained teachers; and let honourable members recollect that before the year 1866 there were in the country no trained teachers deserving the name; that certainly in the denominational schools prior to 1867, when the Act came into operation, in the schools where the money was absolutely expended under the supervision of the clergymen, so far from trained teachers being employed, the selection of a teacher was in numerous instances made for no better purpose than to serve some most unqualified person who wanted assistance. Although there was a kind of training under the old Board of Education, still it was not anything like so good as that we have at the present time. The Council of Education has created in this country an army—for I may well call it an army—of 1,879 trained teachers. This certainly represents an instrumentality for good which defies calculation, and which it is altogether beyond our power to imagine in its far-reaching, beneficent results. What new causes have come into operation to disturb this satisfactory state of things? Up to a given point, only a few months ago, the only persons who made any attack upon this school system were the persons who on theoretical grounds wanted schools which were more secular. But the most unqualified assault has now been made by the


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very men for whom this compromise was made. Whatever I may have done up to the time which I have pointed out, it is impossible for me now—utterly impossible for anyone holding my views, and with my deep convictions on the general question—to stand still and see this wise, beneficent, and freely-accepted system of public education attacked as being a nursery of criminality and iniquity in the land.

I drew the attention of Parliament to the continued course of hostility pursued by Archbishop Vaughan, as Head of the Roman Catholic community, and concluded by recommending the Bill to the acceptance of the House and the country, as a measure carefully framed to meet the demands of the time.

I have submitted this Bill in the full belief that it is a measure carefully framed and calculated to meet the wants of the community; that it is sufficiently secular in its practical operation to meet the demands of the strongest advocate for secular education at the hands of the State; that, while it is of that character, it has the additional advantage of not raising or provoking any hostility between the State system of schools and the churches of the country, but rather invites and offers facilities for the clergy and other religious teachers to assist in the full education of our youth. It is a measure, we think, which embodies in the fullest and most unimpeded way the principles of freedom and equality which are embodied in the institutions of this country. It proposes to establish a splendid system of instruction for the young; splendid in its provisions for securing men and women as teachers who shall be instructed how to teach; splendid in its provisions for securing the soundest primary education obtainable; splendid in throwing open the doors of our schools to all children of all sects, making no distinction of faith, asking no question where the child has been born, what may be his condition of life, or what the position of his parents, but inviting all to sit side by side in receiving that primary instruction which must be the foundation of all education


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whatever. We think this Bill may be fairly accepted by all—by every class, by every sect. It does not matter whether the child belongs to an Irish, a Scotch, an English, or an Australian family. What is aimed at is that he should be considered as belonging to a family forming part of the population of this free and fair country;—that we should secure to him the means of instruction upon the basis from which his friends, according to their opportunities and circumstances, may carry out any degree of education they think proper. We think another advantage in this Bill is that it is not a Bill for the poor alone. It is not a Bill conceived in any sense of helping only those who cannot help themselves; but it is a Bill framed and intended to bring into existence a system of education for all the children of all classes; so that the child of the poor and the child of the rich may sit side by side in their tender years, when they receive the first rudiments of instruction, and when there is no occasion for any sectarian distinction. We think this Bill may be received, and ought to be received, by our Roman Catholic fellow-citizens. Surely the Catholic religion, with all its sacraments, does not depend upon some particular form being taught; and surely it cannot be a thing, the teaching of which renders it necessary to separate the Catholic children from the other children of the country. They must mix in after years, and be associated with each other in all the duties of everyday life. Let them be workers, traders, men of competent means; let them go wherever they may, into whatever groove of society circumstances may direct them—they must mix with persons entertaining other opinions. And I venture to say that they ought so to mix; that they ought to unite in promoting the general interests of their own country in preference to any other consideration whatever. Let us be of whatever faith we may, born on whatever soil we may, reared under whatever associations we may, let us still remember that we are above everything else free citizens of a free commonwealth.

The debate was extended over several nights, and, though strongly opposed by some, the Bill received


  ― 23 ―
warm support from a large majority. The House divided on December 4, when the second reading was carried by forty-nine to nine. Eight of the nine members who voted against the second reading were Roman Catholics. In the meantime the Archbishop and his clerical friends were carrying on a violent crusade against the Bill out of doors. To a public meeting in Balmain Dr. Vaughan delivered an inflammatory speech from which the following are extracts. The Christian spirit exhibited in these bursts of eloquence needs no comment:—

What did we suffer as slaves and helots for at home? Because we preferred torture and death to acting against our conscience, and to be butchered and disembowelled rather than allow those for whom we were responsible to be tampered with in their faith. We hoped that we had escaped from all forms of tyranny and persecution by coming so far away—where we were told that all were equal and all were free. But all this seems to be a vain illusion, a dream, from which we are to be aroused by about the most ingeniously devised piece of scientific persecution that has been invented in modern times. The end of the more brutal form of persecution, and of the more cultivated, is one—it is to destroy our holy religion. I believe the scientific method is more effective, and, I believe, more odious than the more expeditious way of tearing out the heart and bowels of a living and grown man.

The gifted prelate then proceeded to draw a terrifying picture of the ‘Scavenger's Daughter,’ who was called forth from the lurid past to do duty as a type of the Public Schools. Regardless of the memory of the Smithfield fires, and the fact

That saints have burnt each other, quite persuaded

That all the Apostles would have done as they did,




  ― 24 ―

thus he spoke:—

Do you know that in the days of trial they had a special instrument for squeezing the life and blood out of those Catholics who declined to deny their God? It was a kind of press, with a screw at the top. The Catholic man or woman was shoved into the press, just large enough to hold one; the top was forced down with the screw until it touched the head and back of the victim. Then the real operation began. By a slow, almost imperceptible process, the top was continually pushed further and further down, till the victim first lost breath, then the frame gradually gave way, and the whole body collapsed into a mangled bleeding mass.

And the great Christian leader added:—

I call those schools ‘Scavenger's Daughters’ because they are the most effective instruments invented by man for squeezing very gradually and almost imperceptibly the Catholic faith out of a Catholic people.

That was the spirit in which the Bill was opposed by powerful and accomplished dignitaries of the Church. But the attempt to manufacture public indignation utterly failed; the bluster only assisted to swell the triumph of the cause with both Parliament and people.

The Bill was debated at great length in committee and hostile amendments were moved, some under the guise of improving its provisions; but it was reported to the House without any material alteration. On February 25, 1880, it was read a third time by 42 to 6, the minority being all Roman Catholics. We have now to follow its fortunes in the Legislative Council.

Sir John Robertson, who held the position of Vice-President of the Executive Council, moved the second


  ― 25 ―
reading of the Bill in the Upper Chamber on March 10, in a lengthy speech, which took a retrospctivee view of the various stages by which the colony had arrived at the present epoch in education, and gave forcible reasons in support of the measure and in vindication of the action of the Government. An animated debate followed, and again in committee the Bill was fully discussed, and several amendments were made not inconsistent with its objects. But both the second and third readings were carried without a dissentient voice. On the return of the Bill to the Assembly, the Council's amendments were agreed to, and the Royal assent to the Bill was reported on April 21.

The reader unacquainted with New South Wales will observe that there have been two principal Education Statutes in the colony during the last twenty-six years, the Act of 1866 and the Act of 1880, and that it so happened that I was the Minister in each case, with whom the measure originated, and who conducted it through the Legislative Assembly. As I have had to sustain my full share of public labour, and have had to face something more than my share of rancorous abuse in this cause, I may be pardoned in the expression of my gratification and pride in the result of the school-work of this last quarter of a century. At the beginning of 1892 I obtained from the Department of Public Instruction in Sydney a statement of the progress of the Public School system with special reference to this period. I give this statement in full as an Appendix to this volume; but I copy from it here such figures as will exhibit the magnitude of the work accomplished and the


  ― 26 ―
munificence of the Legislature in the ample provision which has been made year by year for that work.

In the year 1867, when the Council of Education under the Public Schools Act of the previous year took over the schools of the colony, the population was 444,709, the number of State-aided schools was 642, the number of teachers 971, the enrolment of pupils 57,000, the public expenditure 100,610l. for that year. In 1880, when the Public Instruction Act was passed (to which this chapter is specially devoted), the population was 747,950, the number of schools 1,265, the number of teachers 2,300, the enrolment of pupils 101,534, the public expenditure 381,797l., for the current year. At the close of the next decade, in 1890, the population was 1,121,860, the number of schools 2,630, the number of teachers 4,181, the enrolment of pupils 195,241, the public expenditure for the year 704,260l. There are now in existence sixty-four Superior Public Schools and five High Schools for the promotion of Secondary Education in connection with the scheme of primary instruction, and arrangements are made to assist children of poor parents to reach the University. The training schools for teachers are in a highly organised condition, and are connected with the University; 6,000 of the pupils are enrolled as cadets in the Volunteer force.

Much might be said, but it does not appear to me to come within the scope of these chapters to say it, on the work which has been done by the Department of Public Instruction in promoting the application of science to industrial pursuits, and the spread of technical


  ― 27 ―
education. At the present time a Technical College with extensive, well-arranged, and well-appointed workshops is in the course of completion at a cost of nearly 100,000l. But I feel that I am confined to the progress of the primary schools.

In judging of the moral results of the Public Schools, the racial elements of the population must be kept in view. Of course a very large body of young men and women trained in these schools are now occupying the various avenues of social activity. In 1881 no fewer than 61·95 per cent. were born in the colony, while only 5·95 were born in the other colonies. While this was the case in respect to Australasia, there were only 14·32 of British birth, only 9·21 of Irish, and only 3·34 of Scotch. The criminal statistics do not afford a very satisfactory criterion, but at least they do not confirm Archbishop Vaughan's terrible prophecies of immorality and crime. In 1880 the arrests by the police were 4·8 per cent. of the total population; in 1890 they were 3·4 per cent. It is more satisfactory to note the positions in which men are found who have been educated in the Public Schools. We find them at the head of large business firms, in the management of important joint-stock companies, in charge of cattle and sheep stations, in confidential posts in the public service, honourably engaged in the administration of justice, at the head of large schools, in the pulpit, in the legislature, and in happy thousands at the head of families.

It is a matter of deep regret in the true interests of society, that the ecclesiastics of the Roman Catholic Church have used all their influence to compel parents


  ― 28 ―
to withhold their children from the Public Schools, and to tax themselves to support Separate schools under the control of the Church. But even here the Public School system has had a healthy power in compelling the schools of the Church to keep alive a vigorous rivalry with the schools of the State. They would utterly fail in getting pupils, if they still adhered to the old irresponsible denominational system, or no-system, when the priest appointed his worn-out servant to the office of teacher. The cultured ladies of religious sisterhoods and the enthusiasts of religious brotherhoods have been enlisted into the service of the Separate schools, and it may be acknowledged with pleasure that in many cases they are excellent teachers.

By the Act of 1880, which is still the law of the colony, all persons—inspectors, teachers, and others—employed in the Public School service are made civil servants of the Crown, and all properties are held by the Crown in trust for the maintenance of the several classes of schools existing under the law's provisions. The Act provides for the establishment and maintenance of several classes of schools, thus defined:—

  • (1) Public Schools in which the main object shall be to afford the best primary education to all children without sectarian or class distinction.
  • (2) Superior Public Schools in towns and populous districts, in which additional lessons in the higher branches of education may be given under such regulations for the purpose as may be approved by the Governor.
  • (3) Evening Public Schools, in which the object shall be to instruct persons who may not have received the advantages of primary education.



  •   ― 29 ―
  • (4) High Schools for boys in which the course of instruction shall be of such a character as to complete the Public School curriculum or to prepare students for the University.
  • (5) High Schools for girls.

It is provided that the teaching shall be strictly non-sectarian, and the words ‘secular instruction’ are defined to include general religious teaching as distinguished from dogmatical or polemical theology; and lessons in English and Australian history are included in the school course. As a matter of principle, small weekly fees are prescribed, it having been contended on the passing of the Act that this slight payment would serve to keep up the parents' responsibility in the instruction of the child; but the fees ‘shall not exceed threepence for each child up to four children of one family, and for four or any larger number of the same family the total amount of fees shall not exceed one shilling.’ The total amount of school fees for the year 1890, collected and paid into the Treasury, was 71,826l. The thirteenth clause provides that parents or guardians may be relieved of these payments where inability to pay is clearly shown.

In order to preserve the health of the pupils the apportionment of space inside the school buildings must not be less than one hundred cubic feet for each child, and in the allotment of time for teaching, ‘a portion of each day, not more than one hour, is set apart when the children of any one religious persuasion may be instructed by the clergyman or other religious teacher of such persuasion.’ But all pupils receiving such religious teaching must be separated from the other


  ― 30 ―
pupils during that time. Though the Church of Rome contemptuously sets its face against this provision, the Church of England largely takes advantage of it. In the years 1890–91 this great denomination had thirteen salaried teachers with 187 classes, attended by 10,000 children; and throughout the colony Protestant clergymen very generally visit the schools. It is obligatory upon parents or guardians to send their children to school; but the following are prescribed as reasons for exemption:—

  • (1) That the child is being regularly and efficiently instructed in some other manner.
  • (2) That the child has been unable to attend school from sickness or infirmity, or from fear of infection or other unavoidable cause.
  • (3) That there is no school maintained under this Act within two miles by the nearest road of the residence of the child.
  • (4) That the child has been educated up to the standard of education required.

It is provided that in thinly-populated districts, where the number of children is not sufficient for the establishment of a Public School, a Provisional School may be opened subject to the same course of instruction and the same control and inspection. Where the district is of a settled character, most of these pioneer schools naturally develop into regular Public Schools. In other districts, where the population is scattered, itinerant teachers are appointed who visit and instruct small groups of children, two or three days in the week.




  ― 31 ―

The Scripture lesson-books which were adopted in the Irish National Schools are used as class-books, subject to the objection of any parent; a parent of the Hebrew faith, for example. It will be observed that the Public School system of New South Wales endeavours to carry with its teaching the inculcation of the cardinal principles of our common Christianity, and avoid touching upon any point of polemical doctrine. The Sunday School is in many instances, and ought to be in all, the auxiliary to the Public School, and family influence and parental teaching, as a matter of course, must still be enlisted in doing their full share of service in preparing generation after generation for the battle of life.




  ― 32 ―

2. CHAPTER II

Reform of The Electoral System—The Question of The Legislative Assembly Voting Supplies Beyond The Term of Its Own Existence—The Opinions of Sir Thomas Erskine May and Mr. Alpheus Todd—New Men, and Origin of The Protectionist Party—Useful Measures of Legislation—Attempt to Bring The Liquor Traffic Under Stricter Control—Chinese Immigration—The Boarding-out of Destitute Children—The Treatment of The Insane.

MANY complaints had been made for years past of the inequalities and anomalies in the system of representation. Districts which were sparsely peopled when the existing Electoral law was passed, had, from their internal resources and from new conditions stimulating their prosperity, grown enormously in population, while other districts had remained almost stationary, and some few retrograded. From these causes some electorates had grown four and five times as large as others possessing a like share of representation, which, of course, created much dissatisfaction in the newer and more thriving districts. Some years before, in a former Government, I had carried an Electoral Bill through the Assembly, which, however, was defeated by the action of the Legislative Council. The Government brought in a new Bill to carry out this much needed reform. This measure divided


  ― 33 ―
the colony into seventy-two electorates, which collectively were entitled to return 108 members. With the view of providing against the glaring inequalities which in the past had sprung from the rapid progress of particular districts, and had been felt so severely as a grievance, the Bill contained provisions which soon became popularly known as the ‘expansive clauses.’ As they are somewhat of a novelty, I copy the clauses:—

6. Subject to the conditions and provisions hereinafter contained, every electoral district entitled under the provisions of the next preceding section to return two members to serve in the Assembly shall so soon as the number of electors on the electoral roll for the time being of such electoral district shall have reached five thousand, be and continue to be entitled as hereinafter mentioned to return one additional member to serve in the Assembly.

7. Subject to the aforesaid conditions and provisions, every electoral district so entitled as aforesaid to return one member only to serve in the said Assembly shall so soon as the number of electors on the electoral roll for the time being of such electoral district shall have reached three thousand, be and continue to be entitled as in the said section mentioned to return one additional member to serve in the Assembly.

8. Subject to the same aforesaid conditions and provisions, every electoral district so entitled as aforesaid to return three members to serve in the said Assembly shall so soon as the number of electors on the electoral roll for the time being of such electoral district shall have reached eight thousand, be and continue to be entitled as in the said section mentioned to return one additional member to serve in the Assembly.

9. No electoral district shall be entitled to return an additional member under the provisions of section six, seven, or eight of this Act until the Governor shall by proclamation to be published in the Gazette have declared that such district is entitled by reason of the number of electors thereof on the electoral roll


  ― 34 ―
for the time being having reached the number hereinbefore in that behalf prescribed, to return an additional member in pursuance of the provisions of this Act. And such proclamation shall be issued so soon as practicable after it shall appear to the Governor that the number of electors on the roll for the time being for such district has reached the number hereinbefore prescribed and has not during the then next preceding twenty-four calendar months been less than the said prescribed number by at least one-fifth thereof. Provided always that the first writ for the election of any such additional member shall be issued by the Governor and not for any election except a General Election. And all subsequent writs shall be issued in manner provided by this Act.

It will be observed that, although the machinery of the Executive is called into operation, to declare by proclamation when a district is entitled to an additional member, the title itself springs out of the natural increase of the electoral roll, which is collected by law. The effect of these ‘expansive clauses’ has been that the Legislative Assembly, which started in 1880 under the present Act, with 108 members, contains at the present time (May 1892) the increased number of 143.

To guard against the abuse of unreasonable delay in convening a new Parliament, I provided in the Bill that the meeting should not be later than the seventh day after the return of the writ.

The Bill received good support in both Houses, and became law in July, 1880.

Owing mainly to the irregular financial action of the short administrations in the early days of its existence, the Parliament in 1880 was approaching its termination by effluxion of time, when the question arose


  ― 35 ―
whether the Legislative Assembly was competent to vote the Supplies for the year 1881. The case is fully stated in a letter I wrote to Sir Thomas Erskine May. A similar letter was addressed to Mr. Todd, the author of ‘Parliamentary Government in England.’ I give my letter to Sir T. Erskine May, and the replies received from both him and Mr. Todd. The question is one very likely to present itself again, though possibly not in the same identical relations, and the opinions of these high authorities cannot be deemed of light value:—

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,

July 14, 1880.

My dear Sir,—If you have no objection I should much like to receive your opinion on the following case, and if it is your wish I will of course regard your opinion as private.

The Parliament of this colony consists of two Houses, the Council nominated for life, and the Assembly elected for three years.

The writs for the present Assembly were made returnable on November 26, 1877, and its period of existence terminates on November 25 next. Parliament after its third Session with this Assembly was prorogued yesterday. The annual appropriation Acts for the three years 1878–1880 have been passed and assented to respectively, May 21, 1878, July 24, 1879, July 2, 1880.

The question has been raised as to whether the Houses should be called together again for what is termed a ‘short session’ to vote the Supplies for 1881, the financial year commencing on January 1.

Would the Assembly which expires by effluxion of time in November be competent to vote Supplies for 1881, having already voted supplies covering the full legal term of its own existence. Has any House of Commons, elected for seven years, voted the Supplies for eight years?




  ― 36 ―

I may mention further that among the Acts just passed is a new Electoral Act which enlarges the Assembly from 73 to 108 members, and the election of the new House must take place under this law not later than October.

Yours faithfully,

HENRY PARKES.

Sir Thomas Erskine May, K.C.B.

House of Commons, August 31, 1880.

Dear Sir Henry Parkes,—I entertain no doubt that your Parliament is perfectly competent to make provision for the public service for the ensuing year, or any portion of it. So long as its legal existence continues, it has power to make laws, which are binding upon the colony, until modified or repealed by a succeeding Parliament.

You do not state how soon the new Parliament will meet, nor how soon after January 1 it will be necessary to vote supplies for the ensuing financial year.

If the meeting of the new Parliament should be too late conveniently to vote Supplies for the service of the year, the present Parliament might vote them for three months. These are questions of expediency which will be duly considered by you; but upon the constitutional problem submitted to me I have no doubt whatever.

Pray accept my best compliments, and with all good wishes,

I am,

Yours very truly,

T. ERSKINE MAY.

As for precedents, I may say that this very year the late Parliament voted the Army Estimates until March 31, 1881, which was beyond the period at which the Parliament would have legally expired.

Ottawa, September 16, 1880.

My dear Sir Henry,—Your letter of July 14 only reached me yesterday, owing to the fact that I had just returned from a holiday trip to England, for rest, after the publication of my last book.




  ― 37 ―

You enquire of me as to the constitutionality of a vote of money to defray the ordinary expenses of Government for a period wholly subsequent to that of the legal existence of the Parliament itself—in other words, whether it would be constitutionally competent for a Parliament which would expire by efflux of time on November 26, 1880, to vote in a Session, ending in July, 1880, supplies for the service of the fiscal year commencing on January 1 following.

Such a proceeding would undoubtedly be highly irregular. Parliament may vote money for a limited and specific purpose, to be applied out of the Consolidated Fund ‘from time to time’ for an indefinite period, as in the case of the Grant for Fortifying the English Coast. (See Todd, ‘Parliamentary Government,’ vol. i., pp. 494-6, Act 28 & 29 Victoria, chap. 61). Even in such a case there is a reserved right in Parliament to redistribute such an appropriation. (See Imp. Act, 30 Victoria, chap. 24.)

But when Parliament is about to be dissolved or to expire, under whatever circumstances, it is customary and proper ‘to restrict the grant of supplies [i.e. the ordinary supplies for the support of Government] to an amount sufficient to defray the indispensable requirements of the public service until the new Parliament can be assembled.’ (Todd, ‘Parl. Government,’ vol. ii., p. 404.)

This rule, however, must not be so strongly urged or insisted upon as to debar the Legislature, at its discretion, from voting supplies for the whole OF THE CURRENT financial year, albeit but one quarter of the same should have expired before the close of the existing Parliament. In 1868, by common consent and for reasons of public convenience, notwithstanding that a dissolution of Parliament was agreed upon in the month of June (which took place in November, the new Parliament meeting in December), the supplies for the whole fiscal year ending March 31, 1869, were actually granted before the prorogation of Parliament in July 1868.

But it would be undoubtedly irregular and contrary to the first principles of constitutional practice for an existing Parliament


  ― 38 ―
to assume the right of appropriating the annual supplies for the ordinary expenses of the public service for a period of time which should commence subsequent to the date of its own legal existence.

The only circumstances under which an exception could properly be allowed to the operation of this constitutional rule would be in the event of the close of the financial year, being about to occur within a very short period of the anticipated or actual dissolution of Parliament. In such an event it would be allowable to vote a portion of the supplies for the service of the ensuing year. But such an amount should be strictly limited to the actual necessity of the case, and should in no wise fetter or restrict the discretion of the new Parliament (or, possibly, of the new Administration) in dealing with the bulk of Supply required to be voted for the service of the future year.

This, however, is outside of the question you ask, which deals with the propriety of voting in July for the service of a whole fiscal year, beginning on January 1 following and voting, not merely a small sum in anticipation, to consist of ordinary unopposed items for the service of the State, until the usual time for the regular annual Session, but voting, as I understand you to suggest, the entire bulk of the year's supply. This, I have no hesitation in saying, would be a highly irregular and unconstitutional proceeding.

Hoping you will find this explanation sufficiently clear and satisfactory,

I remain, dear Sir Henry,

Truly yours,

ALPHEUS TODD.

Sir H. Parkes, Colonial Secretary,

New South Wales.

The General Election under the Electoral Act of 1880 took place at the end of the year, and a large number of new men came into the Legislative Assembly as the revelation of the ballot-box. Of these may be


  ― 39 ―
mentioned the names of J. P. Abbott, G. H. Reid, W. J. Lyne, John See, J. P. Garvan, T. M. Slattery, W. J. Trickett, James Fletcher, and others, which have gained more or less prominence during the twelve years since. Three of them are now members of Mr. Dibbs's third Ministry, one is Speaker, and one is dead. The present Premier himself sat in the Assembly from January 27, 1875, until October 11, 1877, when he lost his seat and did not reappear in the House until 1883. Excepting the names of Mr. Reid and Mr. Trickett as identified with Free-trade, the above with several names less prominent may be said to loosely form the Protectionist party, but some of them were Free-traders on their entrance into public life, and none of them very pronounced on the other side for the first year or two. The process of conversion went on by occult means, and for different periods in the case of different individuals. Mr. Dibbs, a strong Free-trader throughout a long life, did not announce his conversion till the year 1887, and then only in view of taking the leadership of the Protectionist party. It may be admitted that no ‘infusion of new blood’ in any former Assembly had an equal effect in changing the composition of the House. Many of the new members were men of strong wills, who at least were determined to do something. In comparing themselves with others, it was pardonable to think that the balance of superiority was on their own side. And when men of ‘strong wills’ have to cast about to discover a political creed, it is hardly surprising that they should light upon Protection. Indeed Protection seems a


  ― 40 ―
standing dish prepared for the politically raw and hungry, at all seasons.

All the old members of earlier years, the Macarthurs, the Cowpers, the Martins, and their contemporaries, had disappeared. Only two or three who sat in the first Assembly (1856) remained.

Other measures of much importance were passed into law in these years by the third Administration over which I presided.

Bills were passed to provide for the Water Supply and the Sewerage for the city of Sydney and the principal country towns.

An entirely new measure became law to enable the Government to acquire lands for public purposes by a prescribed procedure of arbitration. This had been rendered necessary by the exorbitant demands of persons with whom the Government had to deal in such cases.

Acts were passed to authorise the appointment of stipendiary magistrates, to provide for the summoning and the examination of witnesses before either House of Parliament, to extend and regulate the liability of employers in relation to injuries to workmen in their service, and to establish schools of anatomy.

Among the measures of higher character were Acts to create a Board of Commissioners to control and regulate the fisheries and the calling of fishermen throughout the colony, and other Acts, to which I feel justified in making a more lengthy reference. First of these was an Act to deal with the Liquor Traffic.




  ― 41 ―

The law in New South Wales regulating the consumption of intoxicating liquors was virtually in the hands of the Benches of Magistrates. Without impugning the character of the magistracy as a body, it is not too much to say that the bench was often packed to grant or to refuse a publican's licence where the applicant had strong influence, or where Temperance bodies were strongly represented. This led to much abuse in various forms. Public-houses sprung up in close proximity to schools and churches, and in localities where there was no visible necessity for them. Not only did the Temperance bodies carry on a fierce crusade against the licensing systems, but quiet and well-meaning citizens of all classes were urgent in demanding a reform of what was felt to be a crying grievance. One of the early measures of the Government was a Bill to establish a new system.

The new Bill provided for the proclamation of Licensing Districts, the creation of Licensing Courts, and the appointment of officers to inspect premises and to report on the manner in which licensed houses were conducted. It gave to the ratepayers of a district the power to say by their votes whether a new house in any locality was required or not, and it prescribed the number and size of rooms, and gave to the police definite powers of visitation. The second reading was moved by me on September 8, 1881; the debate was protracted over several sittings, and forty-seven members took part in it; but the second reading was carried on the 16th by 54 to 5 votes. The following is a slightly abridged report of my reply on this lengthy debate:—




  ― 42 ―

I think it will be admitted that this debate is unprecedented in at least two respects. It certainly is unprecedented in the number of speakers, and I think it is unprecedented in the large amount of confusion which this multitude of speakers has created. If a debate is to bring out the features of the measure debated, if it is to conduct the understanding of the Legislature to one or other of the two sides of the question, then this debate has utterly failed; and in justification of this assertion, which I should not make lightly, I would ask any dispassionate and reasonable man to examine the forty-seven speeches which have been delivered. There are not two of those speeches which agree. I would ask any dispassionate and impartial man to examine the speech of any one of the gentlemen who have opposed the Bill and see if he can deduce from it the elements of any measure whatever. Surely on a question of this kind, admittedly one of unsurpassed difficulty, the Government have a right to a generous interpretation of their motives, to a fair dealing with the provisions of the measure submitted, and to some suggestions in the place of the provisions which are objected to. I have to thank honourable members who intend to vote against the Bill for the fair and straightforward way in which they have opposed it, especially the honourable member for Yass Plains (Mr. Fitzpatrick). He thoroughly disbelieves in it. He tells us that the traffic in drink is like any other traffic; that you have no more right to interfere by vexatious legislation with the dealers in liquor than with the dealers in groceries. I can understand that view, though I cannot sympathise with it; and I admit that the honourable member has fairly met the measure submitted by the Government, and that in voting against it he is only performing a duty to which he is conducted by his own reasoning. But I cannot appreciate the action of honourable members who profess to be friends of the measure, who point out—thoughtlessly point out—all kinds of so-called objections without offering any suggestion in their place which will bear examination.

I remember reading, a short time ago, of a gentleman who approached Mr. Bright to offer suggestions on the Irish


  ― 43 ―
land question. The reply of the Minister was, ‘Do you suppose that the sixteen gentlemen who form the British Cabinet, and who have been compelled to examine this question in all its details and in every aspect, have not thought of anything which is likely to occur to you?’ I think that is a very rational and sound answer. Often in my experience of office I have discovered that nineteen out of twenty suggestions made to us have been matters which had already engaged our attention, and had been dismissed as being utterly untenable; and certainly the whole of the suggestions made in this debate as to a substitute for licensing courts have engaged the serious attention of the Government. We have thought of District Court Judges, we have thought of every conceivable agency, and we came to the conclusion that the machinery of these Licensing Boards is by far the best, and I hope I shall be successful in proving to anyone who will follow me that we have good reason for thinking so. Of course my difficulty will be great, within a limited period, to deduce from the vast number of speeches delivered all the objections which have been raised, or even any fair approximation of those objections; but I will try, and I will try especially to answer, as I think I shall do successfully, the objections to the two main provisions of the Bill. Before I proceed further, I hope I may be pardoned for calling the attention of honourable members to the spirit and manner in which I introduced the Bill for their consideration. I was studiously as moderate as I could be. I endeavoured to avoid any possible provocation to hostile or unfair criticism. I confined my observations, with the exception of one or two sentences, not to the question of temperance, but to the question with which I have to deal—the better regulation of the traffic in liquor. I therefore am not answerable for this deluge of confusion. I did not set the example of irrelevant and pointless discussion. I spoke but thirty minutes, and no other Minister has spoken. I confined myself from first to last to the object of the measure, and I distinctly stated that it was to bring the traffic in liquor under sounder and more healthy regulations. I indulged in no tirade against publicans


  ― 44 ―
or against teetotallers. I said nothing about the evils of drunkenness, except in one or two sentences, and in a very general way. If I had desired to describe the evils of drunkenness, I might have done it in the words of a very staid and sober man, a member of the House of Commons—I mean Mr. Walter, the proprietor of the ‘Times.’ They might have been described more forcibly in three words of his than they have been described in all the wild teetotal speeches which have been addressed to us. Mr. Walter said that intemperance was the ‘Devil in solution.’ I do not think it could be stated more forcibly or more eloquently in a speech of two hours; and it is simply because the trade in liquor leads to putting the Devil in solution that it is absolutely necessary to regulate it. You may ask why we do not regulate the trade in tea and sugar, or potatoes, or grain. I answer that it would be perfectly permissible to do so under certain circumstances, but those trades have not the same effects as that of the publican. The commodity sold by the publican has the effect of converting rational men into lunatic men, of letting loose the wildest passions, which generate all crime, which uproot the very foundations of society, and make neighbourhoods unfit for peaceable men and women to live in. I say this only in justification of the necessity imposed upon us of regulating this traffic. Now the Bill, recollect, is designed to regulate the traffic. I beg honourable members to keep in mind those words. We do not propose to leave the publican to do as he likes; we propose—and we ask your assent to the proposal—to place him under continuous supervision. Hence, then, I have no sympathy whatever with those honourable gentlemen who tell us that when a licence is once granted to a publican he should have a right to hold it until it is forfeited by misconduct. I say he has no such right because he is engaged in a perilous trade—perilous to his morals, perilous to his own family, perilous to the neighbourhood in which his house is situated, and perilous to society at large. The publican ought not to have the right to sell these destructive liquors except from year to year, and if the Bill passes into law there will be


  ― 45 ―
a system of supervision which will be able to detect whether he has done anything to forfeit that right. It is because it is necessary that this continuous supervision should be exercised over the traffic—that there should be inspection to see that no deleterious ingredients are intermixed with the liquor; that there should be inspection to see that his house is conducted in an orderly manner; that there should be supervision to see that he is worthy to have his licence renewed—that some body is required not simply to issue licences, but to cancel them if necessary, and to cancel them on the evidence of inspectors. It is for these reasons that the duty cannot be delegated to such a person as a District Court Judge or to anyone else similarly situated; but there must be some body created whose business it will be from day to day constantly to supervise the trade and to see that society, in the first instance, is protected at all hazards. The city and suburbs and other portions of the county of Cumberland contain a vast amount of this traffic; the business there is almost inexpressibly larger and more important than it is elsewhere, and for this reason there will be a great deal more work to be done by the Board. There will be a necessity for a constant watch, and for constant attention to the business. It is not the granting in a perfunctory way of licences on some particular day, but the supervision of the whole trade; and it has been thought that it would be a far better plan to have in the county of Cumberland a larger Board. In this case the probability will be—almost the certainty will be—that the Board will consist of the police magistrates of Sydney and the suburbs (because we intend to ask the House to sanction the appointment of stipendiary magistrates for Sydney and the suburbs), and perhaps the Mayor of Sydney. There has never been the slightest intention to provide for all the imaginary patronage which is talked of. I am glad that although I am the oldest member of the House I have had no experience of this corruption which has been referred to—this constant solicitation to get situations for people. I have held my course in the House for twenty-eight years, so that no man would dare to ask me to get him a situation under the Government;


  ― 46 ―
and I defy any Minister ever in office to point to an instance in which I sought to get a person employed under Government. If other honourable members would take the same course, they would not be so pestered by applications such as they have described so helplessly in the course of this debate. If this kind of corruption exists, I have not been contaminated with it, either as a Minister or as a member of Parliament. I sat here twelve years before I became a Minister of the Crown, and during that period I never asked a favour from any Government, either for my friends or for myself; and if other honourable members would take that course they would stamp out this corrupt system of patronage of which so much is said. I can appeal fearlessly to those who are opposed to me, and to those who sit behind me, whether I have exercised patronage in this improper manner at any period of my life. Then why should it be suspected that we are creating these boards for the mere sake of appointing hangers-on, as they are called? I can say safely—if I may be permitted to make the digression—that whenever any person has applied to me to exercise my influence for him, on the ground that he has voted for me at an election, I have turned round and said, ‘You need not have voted for me, and you either voted for me because you thought it your duty to do so, or you ought not to have voted for me; and in either case I will not recognise that class of services.’ We have no intention, we never had any intention, of creating unnecessary offices, or to do more than appoint a body which should be a body corporate, and in that capacity should be charged with the duty and the responsibility of managing this traffic; and I hope that we shall be acquitted on all hands of any desire for an improper exercise of patronage. These boards will have to consider all applications for new licences, not to consider them as a mere matter of form, but as coming under the operation of other provisions of the Bill, including, where practicable, the exercise of the rate-payers’ vote. They will have to consider all renewals of licences, all removals of licences, all transfers of licences from one person to another; to consider all questions of altering or amending the


  ― 47 ―
classification of houses by inspectors; and to consider the cancellation of licences and the disqualification of licencees from holding licences for a period of years; and they will have to undertake the hearing of all complaints under the Act cognisable by a court of petty sessions or some higher court. You will thus see here a mass of business quite sufficient to engage the attention of these courts, and which a District Court Judge could not discharge without impairing the exercise of his own proper duties. I do not think we have such large ground to be satisfied with our District Court Judges as to heap upon them duties so foreign to the strictly judicial course they ought to take; and certainly these duties could not be performed by them if they are to be performed in the sense I have explained. What I mean by that is: if the House agrees with the Government, the trade is not to be left to itself, but that it is to be subject to rigid regulation and supervision, not on one occasion only, but from day to day, from month to month, from year to year, as long as the licence is held; and I maintain that this, and this alone, is the means whereby we can make the trade safe and respectable. You cannot, by any device of yours in issuing licences, or by measuring the capacity of premises, secure a continuance of respectability and good order and all that is required for the public good. As I have already hinted, the trade itself is calculated to destroy the character of the person who enters upon it. I do not say this is always the case. I desire to steer clear of reflections on the trade as a whole; but every honourable member must know cases in which men have entered on the trade comparatively sober and well-conducted, and who have died a premature death owing to the seductions which the trade itself supplies; and it is for this reason that you cannot trust the trade as you trust any other. Now, with regard to the amendments proposed by honourable members. I asked the House in my short address on moving the second reading to regard two principles in the Bill, and on the second reading to affirm or reject them. One was the establishment of licensing courts, the other the system of election which is called local option; and if these were considered the leading principles of the


  ― 48 ―
Bill, I said I should be prepared to accept the assistance of honourable members from any quarter of the House in the endeavour to make the measure as effective as possible for its objects. But we have not nailed our colours to the mast lightly on these questions. We have not in the crude way some honourable members suppose, considered the provisions alluded to. The facts adduced show that we have been thinking on the subject and trying to deal with it in an effective way, and we submit these provisions as the best we can devise for dealing with the traffic. The House has received 236 petitions in support of the Bill. On no question—either the Public Instruction Act or the Public Schools Act of 1866—was there anything like such an array of petitions as there has been on this. Honourable members may say that all these petitions are alike. They are; but that in no way lessens their value. It adds to their value; it shows the unanimity of the people. These petitions are signed genuinely. What if some organisations have prepared and distributed them, as I dare say they have? They had a right to do it, and they were very properly employed in doing it. The men and women who signed them were at liberty to sign them or not; but they have signed them, and the signatures, which are all genuine, amount to about 30,000. Not one of them complains of the provisions for licensing boards. The petitioners have felt too largely the destructive consequences of licensing public-houses by magistrates. They know too well how unsafe it is to leave a power of this kind to an authority which was never intended to exercise it. They do not ask for any alteration of the licensing courts as provided for in the Bill, and for a very good reason: because they know as well as any honourable member of this House knows, that some new mode of granting these licences is necessary—that the mode existing hitherto has proved an utter failure. Well, what do they ask?—that the principle of local option should be applied to renewals. They ask in this respect for less than the Bill gives them. They ask that agreeing to, or disagreeing to, the licensing of any public-house should be decided by two-thirds of the votes taken; we propose that it shall be decided by eleven-twentieths. We


  ― 49 ―
go further than the petitioners. Of course when these petitions were signed it was proposed in the Bill which was laid before the House, and was the other day withdrawn, to decide the question by two-thirds of the possible votes, and all the petitioners ask for is that it should be decided by two-thirds of the actual votes. They ask that the clause providing for the issue of bottle licences should be erased. They also petition against the 10l. licence for roadside inns, and for the total closing of public-houses on Sundays. So that the Government may be said to be in accord with the people of the country, unless you presume to dispute the right of petition. The petitions are genuine, and are duly signed.

The right of petition is a great and sacred right, and in this instance it has been soberly and judiciously exercised under the genuine signatures of the petitioners. It in no sense matters whether the petitions have been sent already written. Some one must write every petition. We have had a petition from the licensed victuallers, and they have not gone the length to which some honourable members proceeded who professed to be friends of the Bill. I now have to deal with the other main provision in the Bill which is called local option. I do not for a moment charge men with so much experience as the honourable member for Camden (Mr. Garrett) with uttering wild opinions in order to gain a little popularity; but in this respect it is a wild thing to talk about giving the franchise to the electors in a district, and to women also; and I think I shall be able to satisfy every reasonable mind that it is so. What does local option mean? It is quite a different thing from the election of a member to the House, from the election of a member of a municipal council, or from the election of a member of even a private society. By this local option a certain number of persons are required to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question whether they will have new public-houses. For this to have any effect whatever, to be worth a straw, it must be confined to the neighbourhood, and it must be the neighbours who vote. I will take the constituency of Canterbury. Suppose you adopt the electoral roll of such a constituency, what would the electors of


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Gannon's Forest know about the question whether a public-house was or was not wanted in Burwood? Nothing whatever. But let us go the length of taking the constituency of The Bogan. Perhaps Sir Patrick Jennings will tell me the distance embraced in the electorate—I suppose it is 200 miles.

Sir PATRICK JENNINGS: Between 200 and 300 miles.

Sir HENRY PARKES: How impossible it would be to have a genuine decision of the people whether a public-house was or was not wanted at any point of this constituency if the question had to be decided by persons who lived 200 miles away! The term ‘local’ means that it should be in a limited locality, where the neighbours, the fathers of families, can judge for themselves as to whether the public-house is wanted. Hence we have proposed that this shall be done in wards where it is possible, and, where it is not possible, that it shall be done in the next narrowest limits, those of the municipality. It would be the greatest farce in the world to pretend to exercise the power in a political electorate. The introduction of the principle is an experiment; we confess at once that it cannot be applied all over the country without the creation of new machinery; but it can be introduced by the machinery of municipalities so that it will affect one-half of the public-houses in existence, and by far the largest number of the population. I ask every friend of the principle whether it is not better to try the experiment on these safe lines—where it is practicable, where it can be worked—than to go into some imaginary theory for the sake of having a popular basis under which it would be impossible to work it? Of course if we ever extend the principle all over the country, we must create districts for the purpose. It will be a farce to talk about local option if strangers who know nothing about the requirements of the locality are to decide the question. It is necessary to adhere to the literal meaning of the term ‘local option,’ and the power must be exercised by persons who know the district and who can say whether a public-house is or is not wanted there. I hope honourable members will be satisfied that we have not introduced these provisions without thinking about them, at all events. I think


  ― 51 ―
honourable members will find that we have introduced provisions which are practical—which, if carried out, will effect the purpose aimed at; and that not one of the suggestions which have been made would have the same effect. I am quite free to admit the straightforwardness of honourable members who tell me that they intend to vote against the Bill. I am willing to modify these provisions in any way to make them more workable, and I have indicated in my opening address how frankly I shall be prepared to receive any reasonable suggestions. I have indicated how it is proposed to constitute these licensing courts. I shall maintain the proposal to establish them. I do not see why the worst interpretation need be placed on the conduct of the Government; I do not see why we should be supposed capable of constituting the courts in the way suggested by some honourable members. I have told the House plainly that the courts in the country will be composed of the nearest police magistrate and one or two other persons. In the metropolitan district the courts will consist of the stipendiary magistrates and possibly the Mayor of Sydney, and we have no intention whatever to place on these courts the army of adventurers spoken of. I listened with a great deal of attention to the speech of the honourable member for Yass Plains, and with a deal of admiration for his frank, straightforward way of opposing the Bill, of which I do not complain for a moment. But what am I to say of the honourable member for Illawarra? When he got on his feet he said that he hailed the Bill with the greatest pleasure because it embodied principles in which he believed; he went on to say that he agreed with the principle of local option, but he objected to such a small majority as eleven-twentieths ruling. Well, we have other honourable members who want simply a bare majority. The honourable member also told us that publicans' rights ought to be permanent like those of other tradespeople; he objected to their being harassed every three years. Well, if it be harassing, we intend to harass them every year; we intend every year to see whether they conduct their houses properly, for the reason that, even when well conducted, their


  ― 52 ―
trade is so deadly in its consequences to the best interests of society. The honourable member for Shoalhaven read a most appalling account of the misconduct of persons in a public-house in some part of the country. I should like to know how that could have come about if the magistrates had not abused their power in issuing licences? I, for one, with some knowledge of the country, believe that the power of magistrates to grant licences has been just as much abused in the country as in the city. Then we are told that we ought to adopt the system which prevails in Victoria. I admit at once that I should think twice and look three or four times before I copied anything from Victoria. If the proof of the system is to be found in its fruits, I say that the public-houses are unreasonably numerous in Victoria, and that they are kept in an unreasonably bad style.

The late Premier described the measure by a classical term, which we hear him apply to all our measures—he said it was a ‘tin-pot measure.’ If the honourable member were present, I might call him a tin-pot legislator; the word—if I may be pardoned for saying so—would be quite as applicable to him as a member of the House as it is to the measure. The honourable member for The Bogan (Sir Patrick Jennings)—who, by the way, though marvellously friendly to the Government, has not been able to agree with anything we have done—broached the wonderfully wise suggestion that the licensing court should be composed of the police magistrate, and one or two persons associated with him. I contend that this is exactly what the Bill provides for outside of the metropolis.

I do think that on a question of this kind, where so much is required to ensure the peace and good order of the neighbourhood, at least one-third of the electors on the roll ought to decide. It could not be more than one-third even if the clause remains as it is. This is a convenient time for me to say what my views are as to keeping the clause as it now stands. I certainly shall do my utmost to preserve a substantial majority. I consider the election of a member of Parliament a very different thing from deciding this one question, which I consider


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should be decided by a majority that cannot be disputed. I am willing that it should be the lowest possible substantial majority. I am not so particular about the two-thirds; but, if honourable members will bear with me and recollect my explanation that I want to point out that this system of local option must be exercised in small neighbourhoods, it is very probable that nearly all the votes will be exercised. You tell me that in a parliamentary election it is seldom that two-thirds of the electors record their votes; but that is on account of the distance which people have to come. They will not be required to come at all in this case; and the votes will be taken in a very narrow neighbourhood where every person will know every other person's business. I once represented for some years the constituency which is now represented by the honourable member for Kiama, and in that electorate on one occasion all the electors except eleven recorded their votes. I admit that it is a compact constituency, and that such a result could not be obtained everywhere. But in the districts in which local option would be exercised I believe that two-thirds of the votes would always be recorded; and I only ask honourable members to recollect how desirable it is to have in this law all the elements which can afford satisfaction to the popular mind. You may fairly submit a question of this kind to local option. Whether it is or is not an innovation, it is in accordance with common-sense and with common English virtue that the people should decide whether they will have a nuisance in their neighbourhood; but what similitude, what analogy at all can there be between submitting a simple question of this kind and submitting a law passed by the constituted Parliament of the country? I deny that there is the slightest analogy between the principle of submitting this simple question to the vote of the locality where the thing is to be felt and experienced, and submitting a law made by the Legislature for the whole people.

The most remarkable speech—perhaps the most remarkable in having nothing to do with the Bill—was that delivered by the honourable member for Gundagai. I am sorry he is not here. He spoke for an hour, and certainly said nothing that could


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properly apply to this measure. He told us, for instance, that he could not understand why importance should attach to the question. I think that every other member knows why importance should attach to the question. I think that what I said myself is sufficient to show why importance should attach to it; and I think that what was said by honourable members who have opposed the Bill shows it. The honourable member talked about the Government trafficking in vice and immorality because they license the trade. The Government is under a necessity to license it for the purposes of regulation. Then he said that drinking caused the establishment of public-houses; but I say that drinking is, to a large extent, caused by the public-houses. In my earlier life I held the view for some years that free trade in drink would be a wholesome thing provided that houses were not fitted up for its consumption. If it were sold as other commodities, such as drugs, and people could buy it only for consumption in their homes, it would probably have a tendency towards greater sobriety amongst the people than at present. That is, of course, if there were no licensed houses whatever. And why is the eligible corner of a street selected for a public-house? Why is the public-house fitted up with more regard to comfort than a house for the occupation of a family? Why is it made so attractive? Is it not the fact that when men get dissatisfied from some cause of grief or family disturbance they rush out and find in the public-houses a spurious comfort which they cannot find at home? Is it not the case that young people are attracted to those places; that they are induced to go again and again, and that from having a distaste for drink they become enamoured of it. I say that the public-houses are colleges for the education of drunkards, and I deny altogether that they are necessary to satisfy any natural appetite for drink. Where is the person, man or woman, boy or girl, who has a love of drink until his or her taste has become vitiated? They have to acquire it, and in a hundredfold degree they more easily acquire this pernicious taste in the public-houses. I therefore deny altogether that it is a natural desire for drink which creates the public-houses. The honourable member


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for Gundagai went on to say that, instead of dealing harshly with the publicans, the Legislature ought to educate public-houses. The Legislature would present a pretty spectacle to the world if they set to work to educate public-houses; and I think, although we live in a different age and under men of different fibre, that some power equal to that of Cromwell would soon be found to send about their business the Legislature that could find nothing better to do than to educate public-houses. Then, in allusion to the misconduct of certain magistrates in Sydney, the honourable member asked why the Government neglected their duty in not compelling the magistrates to do their duty. That is exactly the thing that Governments cannot do. The only security they can have with regard to magistrates—and I am sorry to say that it does not always exist—is the appointment of proper persons. They cannot compel the magistrates to do their duty. The only thing we can do is to dismiss them. Then the honourable member for Gundagai told us, almost in a passion, that local option would not bear examination. ‘If in the days of Fox and Burke,’ said he, ‘you talked about local option’—he did not tell us what would have happened. The probability, however, is that Fox would have enjoyed a night at Brooks's. That was his notion of local option. I do not know that Burke, with all his brilliant abilities, had very much regard for the temperance cause. In those days no man was considered a gentleman in England unless occasionally he fell drunk, or something like it, under his own table; and the most eminent Prime Minister of that period never consoled himself with less than two bottles of port before going to bed. What is the use of telling us about Fox and Burke in the discussion of a question of this kind? Have we not men living in the present day who will figure in English history in a position equally eminent as that of those illustrious men?

I hope I have to a large extent satisfied honourable members that the leading proposals of the Bill are sound and practicable. I think honourable members will admit, at all events, that we have thought about them; and that we have not lightly inserted


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them in the measure. I have only to say that I intend to adhere to them; but I shall be quite prepared, and I shall consider it my duty, to accept the assistance of any honourable member in giving the most effective operation to these proposals, and in dealing with the details of the Bill in other respects. As to the measure itself, I believe it is a great measure. Its enemies admit that it is full of innovations; and they therefore admit that there is something new in it. I believe that it makes great and sweeping changes in the law governing this traffic; that it will secure better houses, and place the trade in safer hands; that it will, to a large extent, prevent the adulteration of liquor; that by keeping up a constant system of inspection it will preserve the trade comparatively pure; and that the effect of the caution exercised by the licensing courts will be that in the future houses will be licensed only where they are really wanted. If these great ends be attained, the measure, instead of being mischievous, instead of doing injury, will be fraught with untold blessings which will spread themselves through every rank of society, and tell with golden effect upon the hopes and aspirations of our posterity.

The Bill had to undergo severe criticism in committee, and some of the clauses were pertinaciously contested not only on the ground of the publicans' interest, but in support of the extreme views of the Temperance visionary. Harrowing pictures were drawn of a ruffianly policeman bursting into the private apartments of a licensed victualler at the dead hour of night and all the sacred immunities of home being desecrated. On the other hand startling pictures were presented of the bribing of the police by the overpowering liquor interest, and the pretended stringency of the Bill being laughed at by the wily tavern-keeper, while all the profligacy and wretchedness attending the drink traffic


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would go on as before. But the Bill passed through committee successfully, and did not materially suffer in its passage through the Upper Chamber. It received the Royal assent on December 19.

When opening the next session of Parliament the Governor was enabled to speak in the following satisfactory terms of the operation of the Act during the short time of its existence:—‘You will be glad to learn that the important Act passed in the last Session for regulating the trade in intoxicating liquors, though defective in some particulars, has worked generally for the public welfare. Notwithstanding the increase of population, the number of convictions for the offence of drunkenness at the Metropolitan Central Police Court for the first six months of this year was 2,983, against 3,980 for the corresponding period of 1881, showing a decrease of 997; whilst the convictions for the same offence at the Water Police Court show a decrease of 622 on the same periods. It is impossible to resist the conclusion from these figures, that the sobriety of the community has been largely promoted by the present law.’

Some amendments of the law were subsequently passed, some of them, but not all, improvements. But the main principles of the Act of 1881 remain untouched.

Among other important measures successfully carried through Parliament was a Bill to restrict the immigration of Chinese. It is very self-satisfactory for persons who know nothing of the effects of Chinese immigration to speak of the illiberality of stringent


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legislation of this character; but those who feel, or see in many symptoms around them, the disturbing consequences cannot be indifferent to this social movement. Our measure became law, and was accepted as a settlement of the question for the time. But a few years latter, as we shall see, the trouble had to be faced again and dealt with in a far more drastic manner.

On April 5, 1881, the Act to establish a system of boarding-out State children received the Royal assent. By it one or more persons under the title of Boarding-out Officers, and controlled by a Board of nine persons, appointed by the Governor in Council, and subject to the Colonial Secretary, were entrusted with carrying out its provisions. The Board was empowered to issue licences to persons desirous of receiving State children as boarders, and entrusted with complete supervision of the children as regards education and conduct, and finally of apprenticing them for a term not exceeding five years, also of taking the necessary steps in cases of adoption, or of the restoration of a child to its parents.

The Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, was empowered to frame regulations from time to time with regard to the maintenance, education, and control of the children, and the payment of persons boarding them. Penalties were imposed on persons boarding State children for ill-usage or neglect of duty towards them, and also on persons inducing them to abscond. Payment for maintenance of State children shall be specially provided for by Parliament, or if such money be not available, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be afterwards reimbursed out of money


  ― 59 ―
voted for such purpose by Parliament. The President of the Board was to make an annual report of the number of children boarded out, apprenticed, adopted, or, in the case of reformatory schools, of the number returned to original place of detention; also of the name, age, sex, and cost of maintenance of each child.

Prior to the passing of the State Children's Relief Act, the colony had three principal refuges for destitute children—the Randwick Asylum, and the Protestant and Roman Catholic Orphanages at Parramatta. These contained about 1,400 children, entirely supported by Government. When the new Act came into operation the children were removed as soon as practicable from these refuges and boarded out in selected homes in healthy localities. Since that time 4,384 children have passed under the control of the Board, and have been benefited by this system. At the present time there are 2,396 under control, of whom only 1,389 are paid for as boarders, 163 have been adopted by persons in good circumstances, and 844 are supporting themselves at service.

Excellent results have followed this system of home training for children, as only 3 per cent. of the children proved too untractable to be satisfactorily dealt with, and only nine of the girls have been returned to the Department. It has been found that the cost of the boarding-out system is 33 per cent. less than that of supporting them in institutions, thus causing a saving of, at least, 10,000l. per annum to the State.

Victoria and South Australia also find that the boarding-out system yields satisfactory results. In


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New Zealand and Queensland it has been adopted with success.

As President of the Board, the Honourable Arthur Renwick has rendered very valuable services to the colony, and there are few Acts with which my name has been connected which I regard with more pride.

Not the least important of the numerous Acts passed by my Third Administration was the existing law relating to the insane, which received the Royal assent on February 4, 1879. The Act repeals all previous enactments and consolidates and amends the law on the principles most recently laid down by the best authorities for the careful custody and humane treatment of this unhappily-afflicted class of the human family. It provides for improved means of placing under restraint and securing efficient and instructed attendance, for ameliorative conditions of confinement, and for the safe administration of the private estates of helpless patients. It is a measure worthy of the benevolent and enlightened character of Dr. Manning, who had the chief share in its preparation.




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3. CHAPTER III

VISIT TO AMERICA AND EUROPE—SAN FRANCISCO, ITS HOSPITALITY— ALBANY—NEW YORK—PRESIDENT ARTHUR IN SOCIETY AND AT THE WHITE HOUSE—GENERAL GRANT AS A SPEAKER—WASHINGTON FESTIVITIES—ENGLISH INVITATIONS WHILE IN AMERICA; ONE FROM THE POET TENNYSON—ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND—MR. GLADSTONE, MR. BRIGHT, LORD GRANVILLE, THE PRINCE OF WALES, AND OTHER PUBLIC PERSONAGES—THE ROYAL ACADEMY DINNER—TRIP TO THE CONTINENT—THE KING AND QUEEN OF THE BELGIANS—FROM BRUSSELS TO BERLIN—LUNCHEON WITH THE CROWN PRINCE AND THE CROWN PRINCESS AT POTSDAM—RETURN TO LONDON—AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE—A PRIME MINISTER'S ABSENCE FROM HIS POST.

IN the latter part of 1881 I was overtaken by a serious illness which rendered it necessary, on the advice of two medical men, Dr. Fischer and Sir Alfred Roberts, that I should seek an entire change. Parliament was prorogued on December 20, after the despatch of a large mass of business, including the constitutional provision for the Government services during the financial year of 1882. The Administration had entered upon the fourth year of its existence.

Under these circumstances I started on a journey to America and Europe, apparently with the unanimous consent of Parliament and the goodwill of the people. The two Houses gave me a farewell banquet, and the citizens, under the presidency of the Mayor, gave me


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another; and I heard no expression of dissent in any quarter.

I left Sydney with my daughter on December 29, 1881, in the Royal Mail steamship Australia commanded by Captain Cargill. The voyage was pleasant and without any noteworthy incident. We called at Auckland and at Honolulu, and, between these places, the weather being fine, we loitered with slackened steam at Samoa for three or four hours, where the natives came on board in large numbers for purposes of curiosity and trade. Most of them, both male and female, swam off to the vessel. Nearly every passenger purchased some article—fan, basket, or mat—of native manufacture, and our brief stay was full of varied interest. We entered the Golden Gate early on the night of January 24, and anchored off the lights of San Francisco at midnight.

I had no suspicion of the welcome that awaited me, or that I should be treated other than as a stranger. My notions of the city of San Francisco were not very favourable, and I decided not to leave the ship until the morning. I was preparing for bed when a deputation came on board to take me on shore. I, however, adhered to my decision to remain on the ship. In the morning my new friends came back and drove me to the Palace Hotel, where the suite of rooms which had lately been occupied by General Grant were secured for me. I was surprised to find myself treated as a person of importance. My name appeared to be well known as that of one holding a high place in the public life of Australia. But in addition to this supposed


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claim to public notice, I was recognised as the originator of the Trans-Pacific Steamship Service, and it soon became known that I had authority from the Governments of Victoria, Queensland, and New Zealand to open negotiations with the authorities at Washington for the repeal or reduction of the duties on Australian wool. Nothing could well exceed the hospitality of my entertainers, which was extended to Miss Parkes equally with myself. Every forenoon during our stay a carriage was at the hotel door to drive us out, and visits to all interesting localities were arranged for us. Of course we were taken to see the sea lions, and General McDowell organised an excursion to show us round the harbour. Every evening we were entertained in some private family or taken to the theatre. We were told that we should be franked across the Continent to New York, but nothing was said beyond these simple words. When the day of our departure arrived, and we reached the railway station, I was astonished to find that a Directors' carriage had been attached to the train for our convenience. To enable those who have not travelled in America to understand what a ‘Directors’ carriage' is, I will briefly describe ours. We entered a beautifully furnished drawing-room heated by steam tubes (it was the depth of winter); a passage led from this to a spacious dining-room; off the passage were two bedrooms, each containing a double bed and every convenience. Beyond the dining-room was the kitchen and scullery. There were a first-class cook and waiter appointed to the carriage, and the table was served with as much


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ceremony and as choice provision as we should look for in a leading hotel in London or Paris. By some arrangement between the Companies we were permitted to connect our carriage to any train, which enabled us to make stoppages to suit our pleasure or convenience. Hence we broke the long trans-continental journey by a delay of two days at Chicago and similar stoppages at Niagara and Albany. A deputation of two gentlemen accompanied us from San Francisco to Council Bluffs, who anticipated all our little wants on the way, and paid us every polite attention; at this point we were met by another deputation from New York.

At Albany, the capital of New York State, the Legislature had just assembled, and Governor Carnell invited me to his dinner to members of the two Houses which happened to take place on the evening of my arrival. The streets were covered with several inches of frozen snow, and the Governor placed his sleigh at our service during our short stay. We had two or three drives round the city, and we visited both the House and the Senate while sitting. A member of the Senate was in the midst of an animated speech, indulging in much action, when the Speaker's bell or hammer (I forget which) signified that his time was up; and he dropped into his seat with an unfinished sentence on his lips. It was something quite new to me, but with my recollections of long-winded oratory fresh upon me, the practice seemed to present itself in attractive guise. I met Mr. Carnell afterwards in New York, and he struck me as a man of great capability and much reserved force of character. It is no part of my purpose


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to indulge in descriptions of places or of natural scenery, or I could occupy many pages upon the features of this, to me, memorable journey.

While in San Francisco the officers of the State troops had desired me to hold a Reception to enable them to be presented to me. They attended in full force, and afterwards gave a champagne supper, the military band playing in the courtyard of the hotel all the evening and concluding with ‘God save the Queen.’ Soon after leaving the city of the golden gate, I had received an invitation to dine with the members of the Lotos Club in New York, and another invitation to address the members of the Chamber of Commerce on Australian interests. So that I arrived in New York with my hands to some extent already engaged.

I was driven direct to the Windsor, where a suite of rooms was prepared for myself and Miss Parkes. The Mayor, several members of Congress, leading members of the mercantile community and of the learned professions, with their wives, called upon us during the first couple of days; and invitations to dinners and evening parties flowed in upon us in a rapid stream. One of my earliest dinners was at Washington, given by Mr. Justice Field, to celebrate the birthday of his brother, the distinguished jurist, Mr. David Dudley Field, whose acquaintance I had formed in Sydney some years before. My deep respect for Mr. Dudley Field led me to undertake the long journey in acceptance of this invitation, making the occasion contributory in some measure to a more extended visit intended to be made a little later, for the purpose of


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opening negotiations with the Government on the subjects of the Trans-Pacific Steam Service and the duties on Australian wool. Standing in Mr. Field's drawing-room, I noticed a tall, portly gentleman in plain evening dress enter and engage in conversation with gentlemen near the door. ‘Who is that?’ I enquired of some one. ‘Don't you know?’ was the reply; ‘that's the President.’ ‘The President of what?’ I involuntarily asked. ‘The President of the United States,’ was the quiet answer. Looking back at the incidents over the waste of ten years, I do not think my mind had actually formed a conception of the elective Sovereign of 60,000,000 of people, when General Arthur came up to me, and I was introduced to him. At dinner the President sat on the right of the chair, and I sat next but one to him, and I had some snatches of conversation with him during the evening, and I met President Arthur several times afterwards, and again in New York in 1883. On this last occasion he had come from Washington to act as pall-bearer at the funeral of an old friend connected with the public press. He had rooms in the Fifth Avenue Hotel, not even on the first floor. There was no sentinel at his door, nor even a liveried messenger to announce visitors. He came out into the waiting-room to see me, the Secretary of State, Mr. Frelinghuysen being with him. A diplomatic body from the Morea were waiting to obtain an audience, and he personally named a later hour to see me when he had ‘fixed up’ the diplomats. We needn't go to monarchical England for a contrast to the simplicity of the court of Arthur as I saw it in New York. I had


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been present at a review of the Connecticut troops when the Governor of that little State appeared on the scene in full uniform and mounted, with two stylish equerries in attendance. Speaking of this review, there was present an African regiment which appeared to be equal in step and drill to the white contingents. At Mr. Justice Stephen's dinner I became acquainted with Chief Justice Waite, Mr. Stanley Matthews, Associate Justice, and other celebrities.

The New York Chamber of Commerce has been in existence 123 years. My invitation was in the following form:

Sir Henry Parkes, Prime Minister, &c. &c.

Chamber of Commerce, New York,

February 3, 1882.

Sir,—I have the honour to hand you the enclosed preamble and resolution unanimously adopted by this Chamber, at its monthly meeting held yesterday.

With great respect,

Your obedient servant,

GEORGE WILSON, Secretary.

Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York.

Founded A.D. 1768.

New York.

At the monthly meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, held February 2, 1882, the following preamble and resolution, offered by Mr. Cyrus W. Field, and seconded by Mr. James M. Brown, were unanimously adopted:

Whereas, Sir Henry Parkes, of Sydney, New South Wales, and Prime Minister of that Colony, is now on a visit to this country, and is expected in this city on the 15th instant, and

Whereas, the cultivation of friendly relations and commercial


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intercourse with the colonies of Australia is a matter of public concern—therefore

Resolved, that Sir Henry be requested to meet this Chamber on the 15th instant, at 1 P.M., to enable its members to pay their respects to him, and to enable him to give to them such information in respect to the relations of Australia with this country as he may think interesting to them.

(A true copy) GEORGE WILSON, Secretary.

On presenting myself I was warmly welcomed by the President and other members, and after an interchange of views on some prominent questions, I addressed the Chamber for about an hour. I pointed out the principal conditions of the Australasian system and its relations to other parts of the world, giving such facts as seemed necessary to show the progress of settlement, the growth of industries, the volume of trade, the social and educational state of the population, and the probabilities of the future. I then described the limits of New South Wales, its condition and its prospects, dwelling upon the advantages of regular communication with the United States and the sound policy of removing the import duties on the fine wools of Australia which went so largely into the woollen manufactures of America. My speech appeared to be well received, and application was afterwards made to me for permission to publish it; but as I had spoken without notes, I had myself to be content with the newspaper reports. I afterwards, on invitation, visited Boston, where I spoke on the same subjects to large audiences.

On February 18 I was the guest of the Lotos Club. Considerably over one hundred members were present,


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and the chair was occupied by Hon. T. Jefferson Coolidge, at the present time His Excellency the American Minister at Paris. As explained to me, the gathering included the great journalists, the artists and musicians, many of the leading members of the professions, and was altogether thoroughly representative. In reply to the toast of my health I spoke amidst much cheering for nearly an hour. I thought it best to take up a bold position. After dwelling upon the vast strides which the great Commonwealth was taking in wealth, science, and material prosperity, I ventured to warn Americans against the danger of losing sight of the stern maxims of the founders of the Union. I then passed on to the ties between England and her noble offspring, and expressed the hope, amidst loud cheering, that they might grow stronger and closer, under the nurturing influence of justice and peace and kindred aspirations. When I sat down the whole company sprang to their feet and sang the National Anthem of the old country, and they sang it as I had never heard it sung before. There was a spontaneity and a genuine warmth in their popular rendering of ‘God save the Queen’ which made it abundantly clear how these American hearts beat towards England and their scattered kin in England's colonies. During my stay in America I had several opportunities of learning the sentiments of influential citizens in their private intercourse on international subjects. One leading merchant, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in a large city, expressed himself as strongly attached to the principles of the British Government, and was eloquent in his admiration of


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Queen Victoria; and in other instances I heard similar feelings earnestly expressed. A great lawyer with a world-wide reputation frequently gave utterance to his belief that the English-speaking peoples throughout the world would yet come together in the peace-interwoven bonds of one grand empire. Among no class did I ever hear a word of hostility to England; but then I did not come in contact with the class known chiefly for its anti-British hatred.

I was entertained at the palatial offices of the Equitable Insurance Company, where the gathering included ex-President Grant, Councillor Depew, and many distinguished men. General Grant, who sat next to me, had occasion to speak, I think in reply to the toast of his own health. I was very curious, as his fame had reached me as that of a silent man. He did not rise from his seat, but spoke for six or seven minutes with quiet fluency, and in clear finely-cut sentences of common sense, making a complimentary reference to Australia and to myself. The company seemed delighted and cheered the General very warmly. Afterwards I went down in the same lift with the great soldier and statesman; a little news-boy with a bundle of papers under his arm squeezed rudely up against him, but the ‘Saviour of the Nation,’ with the faintest break of a smile on his face, puffed away at his cigar. ‘I am only a simple citizen like the rest,’ he had said to me an hour ago. A day or two later I sent him some papers about Australia, and received in acknowledgment the following letter:




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New York City, February 16, 1882.

Dear Sir,—Please accept my thanks for the volumes you have been kind enough to send me by the bearer of this note. I accept also the inscription which you have been so kind as to write in one of those volumes, and will preserve it in memory of Sir Henry Parkes, and my first meeting with the first official of the new empire springing up in the Southern Hemisphere. I hope our first meeting will not be the last, and that you will live to see the development which New South Wales and all of Australia is so abundantly capable of.

With great respect,

Very truly yours,

U. S. GRANT.

The Hon. Sir Henry Parkes.

Dinners were given to me at several of the clubs and by private citizens in New York, among others by Mr. Henry Day, an eminent lawyer, and by Dr. Hammond, who had held a distinguished post on the Medical Staff of the Federal Army. I met at these hospitable tables Mr. Hamilton Fish, formerly Secretary of State, General McClellan, Mr. John J. Astor, Mr. Evarts, late Secretary of State, General J. R. Hawley, Mr. George W. Childs of Philadelphia, Mr. Jay Gould, Mr. Vanderbilt, and many others.

I made my second visit to Washington late in February, being specially introduced to Colonel Berret, on whom I relied for advice and information, and to whose courtesy and attention I was much indebted. Miss Parkes accompanied me on this journey. We stayed a day at Philadelphia, on the way, to dine with the Hon. John Welsh, where among many eminent persons we met Professor Francis Wharton, LL.D., and


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several Judges of the Supreme Court. I had letters to the English Minister, Mr. Lionel S. Sackville-West (now Lord Sackville), who showed both my daughter and myself the utmost courtesy. The Minister took me to the Department of State, and in the absence of Mr. Frelinghuysen, introduced me to the influential Under Secretary, Mr. Bancroft Davis, who, I was assured, was the Department. I suspect this conventional repute was merely a compliment to Mr. Davis's great ability and experience in dealing with the business of the vast Department. I found Mr. Bancroft Davis a gentleman exceedingly agreeable, who evidently possessed a large knowledge of public affairs. We spoke very fully on the two questions with which I was principally charged—the maintenance of mail communication by a direct line of steamships between Australia and the United States, and the American import duties on Australian wools, and he appeared to me, as did indeed the Secretary of State, whom I afterwards saw, to view both subjects with a frank and open mind, certainly with no adverse prepossessions. I had many interviews with members of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the questions so much occupying my mind, and I was surprised to find the large number who not only took a deep enquiring interest in Australian progress, but who evinced a distinct leaning to the policy of free trade. A member of the House took my copy of the current number of the ‘Congressional Record,’ and marked the names of those who held these views, and the extent of the list much surprised me. At an evening party given by the Secretary of State and Mrs.


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Frelinghuysen, I met General Sherman, General Sheridan, and other heroes on both sides of the great Civil War. I well remember General J. T. Morgan, of Alabama, and his wife and daughters, who called upon us at our hotel the following day. The General had bravely fought in the Confederate cause, but his conversation afforded abundant evidence of the genuineness of the reconciliation which had followed in the terrible path of the war. Among others to whom my gratitude is due for civilities during our pleasant days at Washington, I must not omit the name of the Honourable George B. Loring, the Minister for Agriculture. Mr. Loring spared no pains to make me acquainted with the organisation and ramifications of his instructive department, and I gathered from him much valuable information.

I was taken to the White House by Colonel Berret, who was an old personal friend of the President's. We passed on unquestioned until we reached the reception room of the President, which we entered without ceremony. It was early, and General Arthur had not come. At the end of the room there was a group of three or four men in energetic conversation; on a sofa opposite to us were seated two ladies in morning dress, and the third was on her feet in lively chat, the three being in open possession of sketching materials; wandering about the room was an old couple in countryfied habiliments, with an awkward-looking lad about twelve years of age. ‘Who are those gentlemen?’ I enquired of my companion. ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘that showy-looking one is a congressman; the others


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some of his constituents who want a job done. ‘Well,’ I again enquired, ‘who are the ladies?’ The answer was, ‘They are some ladies who want to draw the President's portrait.’ ‘Who are the old people and boy?’ I asked. ‘They are only some country people,’ he replied, ‘who want to shake hands with the President.’ General Arthur came in quite unannounced: he instantly recognised me from meeting me at Mr. Field's dinner, and shook hands very cordially. We conversed for some minutes on the topics of the day, when I asked for an appointment to introduce my special business in connection with Australia. I happened to say that I should not need more than twenty minutes of his time. ‘Twenty minutes!’ he exclaimed; ‘why, I have not had twenty minutes to call my own since I came here.’ He appointed four o'clock in the afternoon for me to see him again. I went back to the White House punctually, but President Arthur's room was more crowded than it was in the morning. I saw him a day or two afterwards, and fully explained the object of my mission to Washington.

We proceeded from Washington by way of New York to Boston. From this city I had received the following invitation, and we had friends in the Brookline quarter who had invited us to make their house our home:—

Merchants Association, Boston,

February 14, 1882.

Sir Henry Parkes.

Dear Sir,—I do not know if you propose to visit Boston, but I can assure you that this is the centre of the wool trade. Boston's market is the largest in the country; here are the


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largest mills, corporation offices, &c. Concluding that you will come here, and hoping that it may be convenient, I herewith send you a cordial invitation to be present at the next monthly dinner of the Association, which will take place on Saturday, February 25. Any address that you would make then would be fully reported, and would attract, I assure you, the attention of the men you most desire to reach. The membership of the Association is composed of the commission houses in dry goods, woollens, clothing manufacturers, wool dealers, &c., and a great many mills are represented. On behalf of the committee I can guarantee you a cordial reception and an influential audience.

Hoping that you will arrange so as to be present, and requesting a reply at your earliest convenience,

I am, with much respect,

Your obedient servant,

HERBERT RADCLYFFE.

Chamber of Commerce.

I arrived in sufficient time to dine with the Boston Merchants' Association on February 25. The card for the dinner announced, ‘The subject for consideration, after the eatables, will be American trade with Australasia.’ There was a large assemblage of mercantile men, and the proceedings were marked by evidences of much public spirit and enterprising intelligence. I spoke for nearly an hour, advocating the removal of the import duties on Australian wool, and the sound policy of supporting the line of steam communication already established between San Francisco and Sydney. I dwelt upon the advantages which America derived from the Trans-Pacific Mail Service, which was maintained by a subsidy to which she did not contribute a single dollar; and then passing on to the subject of the duties, I pointed out that while New South Wales


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in particular threw her ports open to the products of the United States, she imposed heavy duties on the admission of Australian wool, which was indispensable to the manufacture of her finest woollen fabrics. The large and influential gathering appeared to be in unison with the views I endeavoured to enforce. During my visit to Boston I had many conversations with gentlemen interested in the Australian wool trade, as the gentleman in whose charming house I stayed was a large importer of our finest staples, and introduced me to many of his friends.

While in Boston I visited Cambridge and the Harvard University, and with many others looked anxiously at the house of Longfellow, where the poet was lying on what proved to be his deathbed. I had a letter of introduction to Mr. Longfellow, and, not knowing at that time the serious character of his illness, I sent my letter to the old English-looking house, and received in acknowledgment a note in a lady's handwriting, and signed by the poet, regretting that under the injunction of his medical attendants he could not see me. The signature must have been among his latest. The poet died on March 24.

No one gave up more of his time to Miss Parkes and myself while we were in America than Sir Roderick W. Cameron (whose acquaintance I had formed in Sydney) and members of his family. Sir Roderick was the pleasant medium of many introductions, and his personal knowledge of Australia and intelligent interest in her progress were of much use to us. We naturally lost much by the hurry we were always in. In Canada


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for example, our visit was straight to Ottawa and back. I should have much liked to have seen something of Ontario, which appeared to possess so many features in common with New South Wales, and the following letter from the Governor, addressed to Sir Roderick Cameron, shows that my visit would not have been unwelcome:—

Government House, Toronto,

February 14, 1882.

My dear Cameron,—As in all probability you will meet with Sir Henry Parkes (Premier of New South Wales) pray tell him how sorry we all were in Toronto, that passing so near to our city he failed to pay us a visit.

Our Legislature here is in Session, as is the House of Commons in Ottawa, and from the very prominent part he has taken in the legislation and government of New South Wales, a visit to these Parliaments might interest him. Did I know his address in the States, I should write him myself, but if you do see him, tell him how glad I would be to welcome him to Government House, where, after remaining for some time, he might go on to Ottawa and enjoy himself there.

I remain,

Very faithfully yours,

JOHN BEVERLY ROBINSON.

We went to Ottawa on the invitation of the Marquis of Lorne, and were his guests for three or four days. The Dominion Parliament was in Session, and Lord Lorne invited Sir John and Lady Macdonald and other leading men and their wives to a dinner and evening party to meet us. But beyond two or three visits to the House of Commons, and inspections, with the Governor-General, of schools and public institutions in the city, we were denied, by our limited time, the


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advantage of learning much of the country. To add to our disadvantage the ground was covered with a thawing snow. We could not even stop a few hours to look at Montreal.

On returning to New York we had to prepare for our trip across the Atlantic. Our passages were engaged on the White Star steamship Germanic commanded by C. W. Kennedy, Esq. We had a large number of passengers, and the voyage on the whole was favourable. Captain Kennedy, with whom I travelled again from Liverpool to New York in 1884, was as fine a specimen of the true British sailor as I ever met.

I arrived in Liverpool on March 20. Sir Saul Samuel and Mr. Sheriff Ogg were there to meet me. On the following morning I proceeded with them to London. The country all the way looked charming, and the neatly-kept fields and winding lanes, the comfortable farmhouses and country mansions, presented a picture of new delight to the inexperienced eyes of my Australian daughter. Mr. Ogg, an Australian merchant, whose house became the home of Miss Parkes and myself in London, had lately been chosen one of the sheriffs. His hospitality during our stay in England was unbounded. If I dwell briefly on the reception I met with, I trust I shall be credited with the desire of showing the cordial recognition of the importance of the land I was supposed to represent, and not with that of recording the respect paid to me personally. Before I left America I received several invitations to


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dinner in London and a flattering invitation to Farringford from the Poet Laureate. Two days after my arrival I was entertained by Sir Daniel Cooper, who had invited to meet me, the Earl of Kimberley, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Duke of Manchester, the Marquis of Tweeddale, Sir Archibald Alison, Sir Lintorn Simmons, Sir Alexander Galt, Mr. Chenery, editor of the ‘Times,’ and a number of other distinguished men. During the next several weeks I was the principal guest at many similar dinners, given among others by Mr. Gladstone, the Earl Granville, the Earl of Carnarvon, Lord Sherbrooke, and the Lord Mayor. I first met Mr. Gladstone at Lord Sherbrooke's. When leaving Sydney I obtained some letters of introduction from the Governor, Lord Augustus Loftus, one of which was addressed to Mr. Gladstone. I sent this letter through the post and received an acknowledgment from the Prime Minister's private secretary, from which I quote the following: ‘Mr. Gladstone is obliged to you for forwarding to him Lord Augustus Loftus's note, though any letter of introduction regarding yourself was not necessary. I am to say that Mr. Gladstone hopes during this very week, notwithstanding the extremely busy nature of it, to have the pleasure of seeing you next Friday evening at Lord Sherbrooke's.’ I met Mr. Gladstone accordingly on the sixth day from my landing at Liverpool, and, as Lord Sherbrooke told me afterwards, he placed me on the right of the great statesman to enable us to engage in conversation. We talked for nearly two hours, chiefly on Australian topics, and I recollect very


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vividly his animated enquiry as to whether many of the young men of the country entered the Church. I had the privilege of conversation with Mr. Gladstone several times afterwards in different places, one of which was his official residence in Downing Street, where I was received at dinner and, before leaving England, at breakfast. At Mr. Gladstone's I met the Duc d'Orleans, Mr. Henry Irving, Dean Church, Viscount Baring, Sir Thomas Acland, Mr. E. Lyulph Stanley, and others.

I think I may say that I never lost an occasion where I could serve the cause of Australia in the many public situations in which I found myself. I believe the dinner of the year next in importance to that of the Royal Academy is the great dinner of the Institution of the Civil Engineers. This dinner took place at Willis's Rooms on April 1. Among the numerous guests were the Duke of Cambridge, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, Lord Bramwell, the Earl of Derby, Sir Hardinge Giffard, Sir Astley Cooper Key, the Earl of Northbrook, Earl Percy, Count Bylandt, Sir Frederick Campbell, and many celebrated men. Lord Armstrong was in the chair, and among the great engineers present were, Sir John Hawkshaw, Dr. Siemens, Sir John Fowler, Sir J. W Bazalgette, and Sir Andrew Clarke. I was set down to respond to the toast of ‘The Colonies,’ and delivered the following short speech:—

The manner in which this toast has been proposed, and the cordial manner in which this distinguished company has received it, go far to fill me with fear that I shall very inadequately respond to-night for the colonies. But the toast


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means the prosperity of some eight millions of men and women who are just as much the subjects of their Sovereign as any men or women living within these shores. The gentleman who proposed this toast said, if I caught his words correctly, that the colonies were doing much to prepare themselves for their inheritance of self-government when the day arrived for them to receive it. We have lived under the delusion for nearly thirty years that we possessed self-government. At all events we have exercised all the rights and privileges which self-government confers. Out of the eight million colonists, at least seven millions of us are as free to govern ourselves as the people of England are free; and certainly there are no braver, no truer, no more loyal subjects of the Queen than the men and women who inhabit our colonies. I can say little for the great countries forming the Dominion of Canada. I have visited Canada, but have only been able to take a glance at that country under circumstances not very favourable to observation. I know nothing practically of the colonies of Africa, and am not sorry personally that I know little of them. The colonies with which I am familiar by forty years of experience are the six colonies forming Australia, and I venture to say in this great and intelligent company that in Australia the British race have before them an experiment in working out British institutions under circumstances more favourable than in any other part of Her Majesty's dominions. We are removed from all possible hostility from other nations. We live on a rich and capable soil, varying so much as to be capable of producing everything which Europe can produce, and almost everything of tropical growth. And we live in a climate favourable to the advance of our race and favourable to the long continuance of life. We can have no enemies if we are wise enough to be peaceable amongst ourselves. We are free from all the errors of the older civilised states of the world, while we have just as much as you possess of the rich inheritance of all scientific achievements and literary performances—in one word, the inheritance of all the glories and all the learning of the old land from which we have sprung. We have


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now planted—with the consent, I presume, of all portions of the Empire—free institutions amongst us, and we have all the advantages to which I have briefly adverted to guide us in the right use of those institutions; and whatever dim stories may reach the ears of Englishmen, we are anxious to preserve the true spirit of those institutions, and to unite ourselves firmly and permanently to the old land which we hold in so much reverence. But I venture to say here before distinguished members of Her Majesty's Ministry, and before other distinguished men who may be in their place in a short time, that the more we are left alone the more closely we shall cling to our august mother; that the softer the cords the stronger will be the union between us and the parent country. I for one have no anticipation of the day when there will be any desire for change amongst us from the position we now occupy as part of the grand old Empire which I believe is destined to carry freedom to all parts of the habitable globe. I would like to say one word more pertinent to the special character of this great gathering. Australia is a vast and as yet an almost untried field for the labours, the enterprise, and the triumphs of engineering genius. Our harbours have to be made, so far as artificial means are necessary, to fit them for commercial purposes. Our rivers have to be spanned with bridges, our vast territory has to be pierced with railways, our coasts to be lighted, and in some places to be guarded from the ravages of the ocean. In every direction there are rich fields for the Civil Engineers of England, and if this is the first time that the toast of ‘The Colonies’ has been proposed at your annual meeting, I can see no reason why it should be the last. It seems to me that if any special class of Englishmen have an interest in the outlying portions of the Empire which are called the Colonies, it must be the Civil Engineers of England. It seems to me that on an occasion of this kind the toast is singularly appropriate. I shall not detain you longer on behalf of the Colonies, especially of those which I may, perhaps, be permitted to say I fairly represent. I thank you most sincerely for the manner in which you have recognised their importance.


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One word only in addition. The next very few years, the next decade, will give to that group of Australian colonies an importance, an attitude of national grandeur, which will surprise England, and will surprise the world. Their growth will be amazing, but, as I have already intimated, I for one firmly believe that the great desire is that that growth should be in union with the Empire.

On April 28 I received a complimentary banquet at Willis's Rooms, which was described as ‘one of the most brilliant colonial gatherings ever held in London’; about 250 gentlemen were present, including representatives from nearly every part of the Empire. His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh occupied the chair, and was supported by the Earl of Kimberley, Viscount Sherbrooke, the Lord Mayor (Sir J. W. Ellis), Sir John Rose, Sir Donald Currie, Sir Henry Barkly, and a large number of members of the House of Commons. I give my speech in full as reported. One passage in it gave rise to some carping criticisms at the time; but writing ten years afterwards (1892) I adhere to the sound sense of the words: ‘No mistake can be greater than for Englishmen who stay at home to think that they can instruct the colonies in the work of colonisation.’ Lord Kimberley, who followed me, offered a kind of mock apology for appearing as ‘a representative of a used-up old country’; but I cannot admit that there was anything in my words to justify his lordship's unreasonable taunt. Neither then nor at any time had I attempted to undervalue the greatness of the mother-country. But there are no professors of the axe and spade in the noble work of preparing the untrodden wilderness for the habitation


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of man. Those who accomplish the work must devise the methods for themselves in the midst of the toil. And the maxim applies not only to the new conditions in the physical world, but to every step in the untracked path of Empire in laying the foundations of the future nation.

Your Royal Highness, my lords and gentlemen,—I suppose there is no human life so desolate but that to the sense or the memory it possesses riches far more precious than gold or silver. My life has certainly not been amongst the most sunny or the most tranquil. I say nothing of the burden of labour, for labour is a source of pleasurable satisfaction. Nor do I speak of the trials or difficulties, because they are necessary to test the stuff of which men are made. But my life has been chequered by great mistakes, and by false estimates of men and things, which I do not wish to forget, and which I only remember with many bitternesses of feeling. It is, then, no wonder that this great welcome at your hands to-night almost unnerves me. Conflicting memories crowd upon me; I am reminded of responsibilities and duties unfulfilled, and altogether I am overpowered by what to me a month ago was a most unexpected warmth of welcome in this great city of London. Admitting, then, that my services, whatever they may have been, have not been perfect, I think I may interpret this splendid recognition of those services as implying that, after that winnowing which keen observation and adverse criticism apply to a public life, there is sufficient grain to justify the reception which you have so cordially awarded me. His Royal Highness has been good enough to remind you of a time which, of course, is present to my mind to-night. There is sitting on my right a distinguished statesman who formed my acquaintance I do not know how many years ago—I should not like to tell even this company—but when I was an unknown and struggling young man; and perhaps I may be permitted for a moment to tell you, what I am sure will not be disagreeable to Lord Sherbrooke,


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and will be new to some colonists, that the first real constitutional battle fought in Australia was fought in Lord Sherbrooke's person. It was this, and you will appreciate it when I explain it. In our infant representative system the people of Sydney were weary of a personal combination that held the representation of the city, and we seized upon Mr. Robert Lowe—not that we loved him over much—but because we thought he was the man to fight our battles. Mr. Lowe had already committed himself to another candidate, and altogether declined to become ours, but in spite of this refusal we elected him for the city of Sydney, and this certainly was the first time in Australia when the citizen spirit came out irrespective of all other influences. It was very gratifying to me when I arrived in London to find among the first men to call upon me was Viscount Sherbrooke, and I have great pleasure in telling you that Lord Sherbrooke does not appear to have forgotten his connection with Australia.

There are in this company many distinguished men connected with the colonies of Great Britain, and so far as I can form an opinion they have with a generosity which surprises me suppressed all feeling of rivalry and of personal jealousy, and have come here to-night—I hope I am not too sanguine in this estimate—to give me a welcome in the name of the whole of the colonies. His Royal Highness was slightly in error in saying that I had been in office fifteen years. It is, I think, very nearly that time since His Royal Highness found me in office in Sydney. But in New South Wales, as in England, men do not continue in office for ever—and they are obliged to stand aside occasionally for other men. We do not always think they are better men. I suppose, in England it is never doubted that the succeeding men are the better men. But I have been Colonial Secretary for upwards of nine years, and I have been Premier altogether nearly seven years. It is twenty-eight years since I was first elected to the local Legislature, and, of course, with twenty-eight years of Parliamentary life, and nine years of


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official life, admitting my sins, as I freely do, I should be a much worse man than I believe myself to be if I had not offended a great number of people. I do not believe, in this world, in people who have no enemies, and although I have gone through some twenty-four elections, I never was allowed to walk over the course. I am rather proud of that, because hitherto I have always been prepared to fight when there was occasion for it, and it did not matter whether the occasion was created by me or by others. Well, after that length of service—and I suppose it is length of service which has so identified me with the colonies that I now receive this welcome at your hands—I say, after that lengthened period of service, it cannot be otherwise than deeply gratifying to me that, never surrendering my opinion, never fearing to face odds, never stopping to calculate consequences, I have still succeeded so well, with all my faults, as to stand here to-night and be greeted with your warm applause.

During my time I must, of course, have dealt with many questions that determine sides in political warfare. I have been the principal actor who dealt with the vexed question of public education. It has fallen to my lot to deal with that subject on two separate occasions fourteen years apart, and I certainly dealt with it in a way to awaken the opposition of a large and powerful section of the community; but I think I dealt with it by the assistance of Parliament so as to give satisfaction to nearly every family in the land, and certainly in a manner which is supplying a sound primary course of instruction to every child in the colony. It was my duty to deal with the question of the amendment of our representative system. It has been my duty to carry measures to establish local self-government, and one of the last measures which were dealt with at my hands was the Bill to regulate the traffic in intoxicating drinks. This question alone suggests hosts of enemies, and again I say, if in dealing with these prickly things I come out with a tolerably whole skin, I cannot help thinking that I must have performed some


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enduring service. But I shall say little more of my personal experience or of the colony I represent. You have been told by various voices that New South Wales is a Free-trade country. In connection with this I desire only to say that in my efforts—whether in power or in opposition, whether as a Minister or a member of Parliament, or a citizen—I have striven, often amidst mistakes, to keep steadily in view the example of the mother-country, not slavishly copying all that the mother-country was doing—and I hope I shall offend no one by saying that I should be sorry to copy all that the mother-country is doing—but trying to lay hold of those great foundation principles which are at the centre and the bottom of the Constitution, trying to be warned by the divergencies which have taken place from those central principles, trying to preserve the purity of our infant Parliament, and to keep it clear from the entanglements of the Executive Government, and trying to raise our Civil Service to a position of purity and integrity, so that no consideration except a question of merit should weigh in cases of promotion. I have tried to emulate the best parts of the public life of the mother-country, and if it be that the commercial policy of New South Wales is more in accordance with the commercial policy of England than that of some of the other colonies, it is that, to my mind, it is undeniable that every man in acquiring property by his labours has a right to expend that property in what suits him best without the interference of any legislation whatever. The principle seems to me a very simple one, that if labour—whether of brain or muscle—is turned into money, the possessor of that money has a right to spend it in his own way to procure what he likes best, and, whether mistaken or not, to secure what he thinks most conducive to his own happiness. That then, is the principle which I have tried to enforce in the legislation of New South Wales, and events show that the electors of the country coincide with me in believing that principle to be sound. I shall pass away now from New South Wales and speak of Australia as a whole. It


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is due to those distinguished gentlemen who represent the different colonies that I should open up no question of controversy, and I trust in the few words I have said that I cannot be accused of doing so. We are content with the result in our case. I hope they will be content with the result in theirs. But if I may be permitted, I will, for the moment, assume the representation of the whole of the Australian colonies. I am sure I shall not be misunderstood. I only wish to speak of all rather than of a mere section. I can say nothing of value of the other colonies, of which I have no personal knowledge, but I would like to say a few words about Australia. The colony of New Zealand—which, in speaking generally, I think should always be classed with the Australian colonies—contains an area of 105,342 square miles. Add that to the great island continent known as Australia, and we have the great area of country of 3,127,588 square miles—a territory which you will see at once may be said to be equal to the United States, or to the vast possessions of the Canadian Dominion. I think there is a little excess in both those cases, but no excess worth speaking of. It will thus be seen that, in the language of the poet, ‘life has ample room in Australia.’ When I first went out to New South Wales the population of this vast territory was no more than 200,000. I have seen it expand to very nearly 3,000,000, which is the population of to-day. At the end of 1880 the population was returned at 2,750,000, but at the present moment it closely approximates, as I have said, 3,000,000. In this country our trade in thirty years rose from a value of 6,000,000l. sterling to 63,000,000l. In the year 1871 the total value of our trade stood at nearly 64,000,000l. sterling; in the next ten years it rose to 94,000,000l. sterling. The average of our trade for every inhabitant is 12l. higher than that of Great Britain, five times higher than that of Europe as a whole, and five and a half times higher than that of the United States. In thirty years the gold extracted from our earth amounted to 292,000,000l. sterling. In 1870 our wool crop amounted to 193,000,000 lbs., in 1879 it was 392,000,000 lbs.


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In 1880—that is the last year up to which our returns are properly made out—the shipping entered and cleared at Australian ports was 85,000,000 tons. The trade for every inhabitant was of the value of 35l. 2s. 7d.—I am speaking of the whole of the Australian colonies; and the debt, 33l. 0s. 8d. per head, but this debt—this joint debt, I should say—has been incurred for works of a remunerative character, for works essential to opening and settling the country. Hence, then, we have as an asset against our loans not less than 6,000 miles of railway, besides docks, lighthouses, bridges, and works of that description, all necessary to the population of a new country, besides the works of military defence, to which allusion has been made this evening. It will thus be seen that our debt has been contracted for great national purposes—for works which are to a large extent clearing their way, and will be in a few years a source of income. I have sometimes heard that the security of the public creditor is our territorial lands. The security is a population capable of paying fair taxes, and the lands would be of no value at all unless we succeeded in settling an industrious population upon them to turn them to account. The machinery of government often is as costly for a million of people as for two or three millions, but the revenue justly derived from two or three millions would, of course, be double or treble that obtained from one million; so that the way to pay our way is to get an industrious population, and the way to get that is to make the country fit to live in, by steadily meeting the necessities of civilised life, and that the Australian colonies are fast doing. In Australia, at the present time, we have no fewer than 1¼ million of horses, 8¼ millions of horned cattle, and certainly not fewer than 75 millions of sheep, and, though agriculture has not made equal advance with pastoral occupation, we have some 6½ millions of acres under agricultural crop. Hence, then, you see at a glance the importance of these Australian colonies. Fifty years ago the poet Campbell wrote some lines on the departure of emigrants to New South Wales, which do not appear to be very well known,


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but they are very prophetic. I remember these lines occur:—

Delightful land! in wildness even benign,
The glorious past is ours, the future thine,
As in a cradled Hercules, we trace
The lines of empire in thine infant face.

Well, this young Hercules has left his cradle, he is advancing to the position of empire which is assigned to him, and depend upon it he will go on growing and gaining strength. If the period over which I have travelled has shown a surprising advance, the period which is coming upon us will exhibit a still more surprising advance. I for one believe that the time is fast approaching when we shall cease to speak of England and her colonies. The time is fast coming when these giant children of the mother of nations will assert power and importance for themselves; but as they grow in strength I for one firmly believe that they will grow in reverential love for the Sovereign and for England. We shall have to throw into disuse the word colonies, for a grand world-circling British Empire will arise, resting upon a hundred isles, lighted by the stars of both hemispheres, containing within its limits the higher developments of its hardy races; and this new Empire, embracing the outlying countries and the old land, must be united on terms of a just and an enlightened equality. We cannot go on with the mother-country looking upon us as mere outlying plantations; we must be parts really and substantially of the Empire. We are entitled to be so by the soundness of our loyalty and the soundness and wisdom displayed in helping ourselves. No mistake can be greater than for Englishmen who stay at home to think that they can instruct us. Those of the British population who emigrate, as a rule show by their very act of emigration that they have more determination, more enterprise, more self-dependence, than those who remain often to lament their narrowed-down existence in the country of their birth. Those who are born of them in the new countries as a rule are free from all the conditions that young men are subject


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to at home—they are freer from poverty, more independent, more accustomed to maintain their own, and, above all, they are attached to the soil of their birth; and the two classes make up a population as steady, as intelligent, and as helpful as any in the world, and while we claim no merit above our fellow-countrymen at home, we shall not long be content with a position inferior to theirs. I therefore say, and I say it unhesitatingly, on the part of the Australian colonies, that we are loyal to the backbone, and in spite of hostile tariffs, in spite of local jealousies, which arise out of emulation, in spite of all these things, the ties of blood and of national interests will yet draw us together, the artificial barriers now existing will be broken down, and we shall be one, one in principle and sentiment, and one in our desire to advance civilisation and to work in unison with the mother-country. I have nothing more to say. I thank you for the manner in which you have received the toast. I hope that in the few words I have said I have said nothing to displease anyone. I hope I have been sufficiently plain to make my interpretation of the sentiments of the colonies clear to you, and I trust that whatever the warmth of the welcome I receive in England may be, there may be nothing in the course of my future life in Australia to make any of you regret the share you have taken in it.

On the following day I attended the great banquet of the Royal Academy, and, looking down the official list, I find I was the only Australian present. At the principal table, on the right and left of the President (Sir Frederick Leighton), there were no fewer than thirteen Royal personages, including the King of the Netherlands and the Prince of Wales. The effect to me was strange to see the great ruling men of the day, Granville, Carlingford, Carnarvon, Kimberley, Bright, Forster, Cairns, Cranbrook, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, squeezed, as it were, to the corners of the


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table. The Prime Minister (Mr. Gladstone) was absent. The seat assigned to me was number twelve at table D. On my right and left were Mr. Woolner, R.A., and Mr. Oscar Dickson; opposite were Mr. Mundella, Professor Tyndall and the Lord Advocate. I was charmed by the beautiful ease and grace of the President's oratory. Earl Granville and Mr. Lowell, who was in the diplomatic gathering, also spoke with admirable taste.

After the company had risen, I was walking with Mr. Woolner in one of the saloons with the object of examining some of the pictures, when the Duke of Edinburgh came to me and said: ‘My brother desires to see you, Sir Henry.’ I walked back with the Duke, and the Prince of Wales came out from the courtly circle surrounding him, and, shaking hands very cordially, at once spoke in acknowledgment of some little attention I had shown to his sons in Australia. His Royal Highness then proposed that we should take a walk among the pictures. I went with the two Princes first to the portrait of the Duke's little daughter, and then to Mr. Gow's picture, ‘A Jacobite Proclamation,’ which I had proposed to buy for the Art Gallery at Sydney. The Prince took a chair, and sitting down before it, carefully examined the picture for some minutes; and rising, he pronounced his opinion in favour of the purchase. I telegraphed the opinion of the Prince of Wales to Sydney, and in reply I was requested to buy the picture. I met His Royal Highness on several other occasions in London, and he struck me as possessing in a remarkable degree what I should


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venture to describe as the princely faculty of doing the right thing and saying the right word.

On May 5 I left London with Mr. Woolner and my daughter for the Isle of Wight, to visit the great poet at Farringford. Mr. Hallam Tennyson met us with the carriage at Freshwater, and the poet himself received us at the door of his beautiful home. We arrived only in time for dinner, and afterwards we retired early to rest. On the following day we had long chats full of anecdotical and critical interest. The poet, his son Hallam, my daughter, Woolner, and I had tea on the lawn, among the laurels. After dinner Tennyson read ‘The Northern Farmer.’ On the 7th, after breakfast, we walked over the hilly down to the Beacon, about 700 feet above the sea, returning in time for luncheon; in the afternoon we strolled down to the beach. After dinner the great poet read ‘The Ode on the Death of Wellington,’ which brought out with much effect the sympathetic force and emotional inflections of his voice. The lines:—

Where shall we lay the man whom we deplore?
Here, in streaming London's central roar,

were rendered with a fine enquiring fervour and a tremulous pause. Then pealed out:—

Let the sound of those he wrought for
And the feet of those he fought for
Echo round his bones for evermore.

And again in tender and solemn apostrophic strain:—

O, good grey head which all men knew,
O, voice from which their omens all men drew,
O, iron nerve to true occasion true,
O, fall'n at length that tower of strength
Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew!




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And with the breath of heroism in every syllable the oft-repeated lines were spoken:—

Not once or twice in our rough island-story,
The path of duty was the way to glory!

We talked much about Australia, and indulged in gossip about celebrities of present and past times. And so my second golden day faded into soft slumber and rest.

On the 8th I had another morning stroll with the poet. In the afternoon, Tennyson, Woolner, Miss Parkes, and I drove down to Alum Bay, where we took a boat and pulled round the Needles and into a sea-cave which seemed to be familiar to our host. We returned a little late for dinner. In the evening the poet read ‘Guinevere’—forty-one pages in the Library edition of 1873. The reading occupied about thirty-five minutes. While assembled on the lawn in the forenoon we had received the post from London with the ‘Times,’ containing the account of the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke, and the shock had cast a shadow of grief over the whole day. The morning of the 9th brought the close of our delightful sojourn at Farringford. In the morning, Woolner and I had another stroll with the Poet Laureate through the woods and fields. After an early luncheon our little party returned to London viâ Cowes and Ryde, Mr. Hallam Tennyson seeing us on board the steamer.

On the morning of the 10th Miss Parkes and I breakfasted with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon in Portman Square, where I first met Mr. J. A. Froude.


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I had been in communication with Lord Carnarvon for some years, first, while he was Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Derby Ministry, when I had occasion to write to him confidentially in connection with the annexation of Fiji, afterwards in London and at Highclere Castle; and I had profited by his rich stores of information and the just views of public affairs which emanated from his finely-balanced mind. He was regarded in many respects, by the best-informed men in the colonies, as a true friend of Australia.

Soon after reaching London I renewed my acquaintance with the personal features of Parliament. Twenty years had made startling gaps where I last saw the figures of Lord Palmerston, Sir George Lewis, Lord John Russell, Mr. Cobden, Mr. Disraeli, and Mr. Bernal Osborne. I recollect a friend telling me of his impression when, after the long sea voyage from Sydney, before the advent of the electric cable, he strolled into Westminster Abbey, and read for the first time that Lord Macaulay was dead!

I went to the House of Commons from Sir Daniel Cooper's dinner a little before midnight. Having made my way with some little difficulty to the glass-door near the stairs which lead to the Strangers' Gallery, I could see Sir William Harcourt speaking, and I knew the subject was the Closure resolutions of the Government. I handed my card to the officer in charge of the door, and asked him to be kind enough to send it in to Mr. Bright, whom I could see sitting on the Treasury Bench next to Mr. Gladstone. I stood waiting two or three yardsaway with my eyes fixed on some object which had


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attracted my attention when a gentleman in black with his hat set firmly upon his head, came up and looked at me for a moment with surprised eyes, and then said, ‘Don't you know me?’ It was Mr. Bright himself; but, though I had been in his company several times in 1862, I did not at first recognise him. He seemed of smaller stature, and his hair, instead of being dark as I knew it, was white, and there was a subdued look of power and suffering in his face. He did not look the same as he did sitting in the House. Such was the change which twenty years had brought to that noble personality. Mr. Bright escorted me to a seat in the Speaker's Gallery, and expressed a hope to meet me again soon. I heard Mr. Bright himself in the same debate, and I listened with surprise arising from very different feelings to the singularly bitter but brilliant attack made upon him as soon as he sat down by Mr. Sexton. I was surprised that Mr. Bright's great services in the cause of Ireland should be so completely forgotten, and I was surprised at the unexpected display of eloquence and power by his assailant. I mentioned the attack to Mr. Gladstone a day or two afterwards, and his reply was, ‘Mr. Sexton is a very able man.’

My engagements were so numerous that I did not see so much as I desired to see of the proceedings of Parliament. But I heard Mr. Gladstone make his Budget speech—probably the last Budget speech from him. There was none of the oratorical mastery of arrangement, and none of the wealth of illustration which marked his former financial efforts; the qualities


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that struck me were clearness of statement and direct business skill in details. The speech did not make much stir either in the House or in the Press.

I frequently met members of the House of Commons at social gatherings—Mr. W. E. Forster, Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. P. H. Muntz, Mr. Courtenay, Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Sir David Wedderburn, and many others—and with some I had short conversations of much interest. The subjects which were most frequently started were popular education, the Temperance cause, the working of payment of members, and the action of the Irish in Australian politics.

My daughter and I visited Birmingham as the guests of the Mayor, Mr. Avery, to be present at the opening of the Central Free Libraries by Mr. Bright, who also was the guest of the Mayor. Miss Parkes and I were driven in the same carriage with Mrs. Avery and Mr. Bright to the Town Hall, which enabled me to observe the almost reverential respect with which the great tribune was regarded in the streets. The speech to the vast audience in the Town Hall was shorn of the fiery splendours of early days—was gentle and subdued in tone almost to a fault; but it was received with a storm of affectionate cheering. He told a charming story of a student of ‘Paradise Regained,’ at a fishing village where he had once gone to enjoy his favourite sport; and it might have been almost inferred from other of his words that he preferred the lesser of Milton's great poems to the ‘Paradise Lost.’ After the great meeting we went through the new buildings, where a brilliant gathering had collected, including Mr. Chamberlain,


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and where their distinguished member seemed to make himself quite at home.

We returned to London in the same carriage with Mr. Bright, and we deeply enjoyed the quiet humour and choice anecdotical turns of his conversation. I met him very often and always felt that I was in a purer atmosphere when in his company. His third colleague in the representation of Birmingham at this time was Philip Henry Muntz, whom I well remembered in the agitations of the first Reform Bill in 1831–2. Both are now gone, with Thomas Attwood, George Frederick Muntz, Joshua Schofield, William Schofield, and poor old Richard Spooner, who used to appear to my boyish mind the oldest man in the world.

I had made up my mind to spend a few days on the Continent—I knew it could only be a few. I had letters from Earl Granville to Lord Lyons, Lord Ampthill, and Sir Savile Lumley. We started for Belgium on June 4; dined at Brussels and journeyed to Antwerp the following day; were much surprised at the excellence of the quays and docks constructed under the influence of Leopold II. We spent an hour in the grand cathedral, looking at Rubens's pictures.

On the 6th we went on to Ghent, where we inspected Van Hoequerden & Co.'s cotton factory, employing 140,000 spindles and 1,000 looms. On the following day at Liège we visited the Sclosson ironworks, and were shown over a fire-arms factory where every stage in turning out a rifle was exhibited. We were entertained at luncheon by the manager of the John Cockerill ironworks, and had the operations of that vast


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establishment carefully explained to us, from the mine to the finish of the marketable article. We also visited the Val St. Lambert Glassworks as well as other places.

On the 10th we had luncheon with the King and Queen at the Laeken Palace. His Majesty expressed himself as much interested in the progress of the Australian colonies, and in the course of conversation he pointed out some embellishments of the Palace which were ordered by Napoleon. M. Frère-Orban, the Prime Minister, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs were present. On the following day we paid a visit to the field of Waterloo, passed through the museum of relics in charge of Sergeant-Major Cotton's niece, gathered some rosebuds and clover blossoms from the plain so richly fertilised by heroic blood, and returned to Brussels with Byron's majestic lines pealing upon our ears:—

There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered then
Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men;
A thousand hearts beat happily.
And there lay my rosebuds and blossoms of red clover.

We spent the following day in the Charleroi district, giving most of our attention to the extensive glassworks. On the 13th we left Brussels by early train for Berlin. The journey in many respects was full of interest to the tourist, but that is a kind of interest which hardly belongs to these pages. Contact with Custom-house officers on entering France or Germany;


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the marching of soldiers along rural roads and across fields; the harnessed dogs compelled to bear their share of work in small waggons; the new manufactories springing up in green country places; the strange motley crowd in Cologne Cathedral, might be made to do handsome service in a book of travels. But I must pass on.

We arrived at Berlin at 10.30 P.M., and drove straight to the Kaiserhof. From our hotel we might almost throw an apple into Prince Bismarck's courtyard. On the following morning I called upon Lord Ampthill, who was extremely courteous and obliging during our whole stay in Berlin. The same day we received an invitation to lunch with the Crown Prince (the late Emperor Frederick) and the Crown Princess, at the Neue Palais. Our first day was spent in driving over the city and looking up one or two old acquaintances.

On the 15th we went by train to Potsdam. The Imperial carriage was waiting for us at the station, and we drove at once to the noble mansion in which Frederick the Great indulged his architectural fancies. Count G. Seckendorff received us; some ladies and gentlemen were in the saloon to which we were conducted, among whom was Prince Christian. In a short time the Crown Prince came in, followed in a minute or two afterwards by Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess (England's Princess Royal). They both made us feel at ease by the absence of ceremony in their manner and conversation. At luncheon I sat on the right of Her Imperial Highness, and my daughter


  ― 101 ―
was placed on the right of the Crown Prince. In the conversation of the Princess I was surprised and delighted by her accurate knowledge of things in Australia. She spoke of her brother, the Duke of Edinburgh, and told me a singular anecdote connected with the attempt upon his life at Sydney. ‘Poor boy!’ she called him in telling this little harmless story, which of course cannot be retold by me. She knew much about the Maori race of New Zealand and made many enquiries concerning them, which led me to enquire whether she had met with Mr. Domett's book ‘Ranolf and Amohia,’ which I said gave the best description of the Maori wars, sports, and usages of any work I knew. As the book was unknown to Her Imperial Highness, I asked her if she would allow me to send it to her, and she replied that she would be glad to receive it. On returning to London I found the book was quite out of print—even the author could not furnish me with a copy; but a second edition was in the press. When the second edition was published, I sent a copy to the Crown Princess, which was acknowledged by the following letter:—

The Crown Prince's Palace, Berlin,

January 19, 1884.

Dear Sir Henry,—I am desired to inform you that the poem by Mr. Domett, ‘Ranolf and Amohia,’ kindly sent through Count Münster, duly arrived here and was presented to Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess, who commands me to thank you very much for the book.

Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess are glad to offer you their photographs, and I am very proud to be desired to forward the enclosed to you.




  ― 102 ―

With kindest messages to you from their Imperial Highnesses, I beg you to believe me, dear Sir Henry,

Yours very sincerely,

G. SECKENDORFF.

The late Emperor Frederick, as I saw him at Potsdam in 1882, seemed to present in personal characteristics a resemblance to the Marquis of Hartington. That seeming unconsciousness of position—that inbred nonchalance and proud self-dependence which chafe at the conventional conditions of life, struck me as common to both. I do not mean that there was a likeness in countenance and manner between the two persons, but a resemblance of type in the two characters. Each seemed most true to nature and himself when least concerned with the obligations of rank and society. Nothing could be more affable than the conversation and personal bearing of the Crown Prince. We were taken through a saloon like an immense sea cave, and through a gallery where armour and arms were collected; and many rare treasures of the palace were shown to us. Before leaving, we were driven to points of historical interest in the park, and then back to the railway station.

Our remaining two days in Berlin were employed in visiting the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, the Industrial Art Museum, a large torpedo factory, and the Picture Galleries. We reached Paris at 8 P.M. on the 18th, and went to the Hôtel Continental.

During our short stay in the French capital, Lord Lyons placed his carriages and himself largely at our disposal. We dined at the British Embassy and occupied


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the Ambassador's box at the Opera. He went himself with me to wait upon the Prime Minister, M. de Freycinet, and did whatever he could to make our short stay pleasant.

Returning to London, I had a long conversation on the 23rd with Mr. Gladstone in his room at the House of Commons, in the course of which I told him that he had often been charged in Australia, both in the newspapers and in speeches, with being indifferent, if not inimical, to the preservation of the connection between the colonies and England. He was visibly surprised at what I told him, and said I was authorised to say that he had never at any time favoured any such view, and that I might challenge any person making the charge to produce proof in support of it. I have been an observer, from a distance, of Mr. Gladstone's public life for many years, and I certainly never read any report of his speeches or any writing of his, which would give the semblance of truth to this imputation. Our conversation embraced other topics, such as the elements that enter into political life in the colonies, the success of secret voting, and public education.

Our holiday in England drew rapidly to a close. We were presented at Court and invited to a ball and a State concert at Buckingham Palace. A few more festivities in London and in the country, including a visit to the Elswick Works and to the beautiful house of Lord Armstrong, and it was all over. We found ourselves on the good ship John Elder, under full steam for the Cape and Australia.

I cannot conclude this chapter without recording


  ― 104 ―
my opinion that this journey was ill advised. It was most agreeable to me, and it is possible that it may have been of advantage to the colony. But having considered the question carefully since, and in the light of fuller knowledge, it appears to me that the Prime Minister of an Australian Government cannot with justice and constitutional propriety take himself away for a period of weeks and months from the proper sphere of his continuous duties and obligations. There could hardly be a stronger case than mine. I had been in office over three years; my work had been incessant and very heavy. My health was completely broken down by a serious illness; two medical men gave their opinion that a sea voyage was absolutely necessary for my restoration. To all appearance I had the consent of both Parliament and people. The two Houses, including all parties, gave me a banquet at Parliament House; the citizens of Sydney, under the presidency of the Mayor, gave me a banquet at the Exchange. A resolution was placed on the business paper of the Assembly for a grant of money to meet the expenses of my journey, which was only withdrawn at my own request. Besides all this I had, before quitting my sick room, written to my colleagues proposing to resign, leaving His Excellency the Governor to commission Sir John Robertson or another of my colleagues to reconstruct the Ministry, a course which would have been perfectly constitutional and proper under the existing circumstances, for the Government undoubtedly possessed the confidence of the Parliament and the country. The reply I received from Sir John


  ― 105 ―
Robertson, speaking for himself and the other Ministers, begged of me not to take the course I proposed, offering to give me any official assistance in their power, and finally informing me that, if I resigned, they in a body would resign with me.

Still I think I ought to have remained at my post at all hazards, or else retired regardless of consequences. In my case my long absence had a mischievous effect upon the Ministry and upon the state of feeling in Parliament. The ground is too delicate for explanations to be indulged; but the weakening influences which found play in my case would find scope for equal activity in any other. But the unjustifiability of the step lies in close compass. When a political personage is commissioned by the Crown to form an Administration, it is never for a moment contemplated that it is within his commission, even as a remote consequence, that he may forsake his post and speed away on a journey to the other side of the globe. It is impossible for him, while absent and at a distance, to discharge the solemn functions which he has undertaken, yet these can be transferred to another only by the Crown, and only by the same process that assigned them to him. Such a proceeding on the part of the Prime Minister of England could not even be mentioned or thought of.

In these Australian colonies, where all is new, we stand in too much danger of inroads upon the constitution and constitutional usage for Prime Ministers to set the example of violating, ignoring, or neglecting the grave responsibilities inseparable from the trust reposed in their hands.




  ― 106 ―

4. CHAPTER IV

ARRIVAL AT THE CAPE—SIR HERCULES ROBINSON—ARRIVAL AT MELBOURNE—PUBLIC BANQUET—WELCOMES ON OVERLAND JOURNEY TO SYDNEY—ANOTHER BANQUET—MEETING OF PARLIAMENT—MR. STUART MOVES AN AMENDMENT ON THE ADDRESS—LARGE MAJORITY FOR THE GOVERNMENT—STATE OF THE PUBLIC REVENUE—SIR JOHN ROBERTSON MOVES THE SECOND READING OF HIS LAND BILL—THE GOVERNMENT DEFEATED—DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT—GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS IN AN ADVERSE MAJORITY AND MINISTERS RESIGN—MR. STUART FORMS A NEW MINISTRY—A SECOND VISIT TO AMERICA AND ENGLAND—PRESIDENT ARTHUR AND OTHER PUBLIC MEN IN NEW YORK—ARRIVAL AT LIVERPOOL—IN LONDON, ROBERT BROWNING AND OTHER MEN OF LITERARY EMINENCE—JOURNEYS TO SCOTLAND—JOHN BRIGHT AT LEEDS—THE SYDNEY CONVENTION OF 1883—COLONISATION OF NEW GUINEA—RETURN TO SYDNEY.

WHEN the John Elder arrived in Table Bay, the pilot put into my hands a letter from Sir Hercules Robinson, inviting me to Government House during the vessel's stay; and His Excellency's carriage was waiting for me on the wharf. There is a light which is so pure and spiritual that it seems derived from a new sense of life, in meeting a familiar and dear face in a strange land. Such was my feeling in meeting Sir Hercules Robinson at the Cape. I had seen much of him during his long stay in New South Wales; I knew and admired his knowledge of affairs, his love of difficulty for the sake of mastering it, his clear understanding, and his strong


  ― 107 ―
character; I had discussed with him many serious matters with a kindly interchange of views and without the slightest interruption of friendly feeling. It was, therefore, with a new sensation of pleasure that I approached him now in his South African home. I met the same frank and gladsome face, the same love of work for work's sake, the same courage in face of difficulties (and he had enough upon his hands), and the same genuine heartiness which everybody had known in Australia. I had long talks and long walks with Sir Hercules, and I received much kindness from Lady Robinson and her family during my short visit. They took me one or two drives, which were full of strange beauty and interest for me. But beyond the Governor's household my recollections are limited to many-coloured groups in the streets of Cape Town, and the striking features of Table Mountain.

While at the Cape I received a cablegram from Sydney inviting me to a banquet on my return to New South Wales.

We reached Hobson's Bay on August 13. The good people of Melbourne welcomed me with a banquet, though I was only passing through their city. As Parliament was convened, by my direction from London, to meet on August 22, I was compelled to hurry on. The Government of Victoria placed a special train at my service, and I was met at the border by one from Sydney. I crossed the Murray under a triumphal arch, and the pretty town of Albury was dressed in flags and evergreens to receive me. Both here and at Wagga Wagga I received addresses of welcome. On reaching


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Sydney I stepped from the train into the midst of an immense crowd of 8,000 to 10,000 persons, and the Mayor, on behalf of the citizens, presented another address of welcome.

So terminated my journey round the world of seven months and nineteen days. The banquet given to me was held in the Exhibition Building on the evening of the 17th, and was largely attended. I appeared to be well received there, and even in the streets. But the Ministry was doomed. We had done much good work, but we were to do little more.

Parliament met, according to proclamation, on the 22nd, five days after my return. The Governor's opening speech presented a group of legislative proposals in the following paragraphs:—

Although the Parliamentary recess has been somewhat longer than usual, owing to circumstances within your knowledge, I have called you together sufficiently early to enable you to transact the business more immediately pressing before the close of the year.

A Bill to extend the benefits of Local Government will be submitted for your consideration.

In consequence of the efforts made by unscrupulous persons to abuse the provisions of the Land Acts to their own advantage, you will be invited to consider a Bill to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the public estate, with the view of carrying out more effectually the legitimate objects of occupation by lease and settlement by freehold.

Bills to convert the public securities into a form more acceptable to the general public and to effect other financial changes will be introduced.

A comprehensive measure to consolidate and amend the Criminal Law will be brought forward without delay.




  ― 109 ―

Experience has shown that the existing Mining Act is defective in some of the more important of its provisions, and a measure will be introduced to give the miner more definite rights, and to afford greater facilities for legitimate mining enterprise, while more carefully protecting the interests of the Crown.

You will be invited to legislate in view of the better preservation and management of the Public Forests.

A Bill will be introduced to make more satisfactory provision for the acquisition and registration of Titles to Real Property, and to improve the administration of the law in relation thereto.

The adulteration of food and drink is a subject which concerns the dearest interests of all classes, and a Bill will be introduced to make more stringent provision against practices so prejudicial to the general health.

You will be invited to consider a measure for the regulation of the navigation of inland waters.

If the state of public business will permit, a Bill will be submitted for the regulation of the Civil Service, and also Bills for amending the law relating to seamen, for regulating the inspection of steam boilers, and for other purposes.

Parliament was congratulated by His Excellency on the continued buoyancy of the revenue derived from all the principal sources, and on the high position which the public securities maintained. In fact there was at the time a large surplus in the Treasury. The speech then proceeded to explain the position of railway progress at this period (1882) as follows:—

In addition to the 996 miles of railway in operation at the close of last year, 178 miles of new lines have since been completed, making a present total of 1,174 miles open to traffic. The new lines are calculated to affect the trade of the interior in a manner specially beneficial to the colony; and the additional


  ― 110 ―
extensions which have been authorised, and which will be rapidly pushed forward, will still further promote the commercial relations between the distant parts of the country and the metropolis, while opening fresh fields for settlement and stimulating the development of our natural resources. The lines of railway now in the course of construction will add an extension of 396 miles, which with the 639 additional miles authorised by Parliament, will form a total within the next two to three years of 2,209 miles.

A number of other topics were touched upon, including the steps being taken to supply the Metropolis and the principal towns with water.

An amendment on the Address in reply was at once moved by Mr. A. Stuart (afterwards Sir Alexander) in these words: ‘But we desire respectfully to express our regret that your Excellency was not advised to call Parliament together at a period sufficiently early to have enabled us to give due consideration before the close of the year to the many important and pressing measures enumerated in your Excellency's speech.’ After a debate extending over three nights, Mr. Stuart's motion was defeated by 67 to 17 votes, and the Address adopted without division.

Mr. Stuart's position was in one respect peculiar. Some time before he had accepted from the Government the office of Agent-General in England, resigning his seat in Parliament as a consequence of such acceptance. In his negotiations with me he had stipulated for an increase of salary from 1,500l. to 2,000l., and he applied for and obtained a period of three months in the colony to enable him to wind up his affairs. From some turn in his private relations he afterwards retired


  ― 111 ―
without entering upon his office, and at a later period he was again elected to the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Stuart's political standing was peculiar in yet another aspect of it. He was the most pronounced Free-trader in the Assembly, and the most uncompromising advocate of denominational education; and yet he soon became the central figure in a group of men who, not avowing their opinions then, did their utmost very soon afterwards to establish a system of Protection in the colony, while the more prominent of them were vehement secularists in education. In a new state of political society like that of one of the Australian colonies, where men are drawn from all kinds of uncongenial occupations into the work of legislation and of government, we must look for startling inconsistencies and anomalous admixtures of opinion and conduct. But Mr. Stuart was a man of superior mercantile education, large experience, and considerable powers of lucid exposition; and in previous years he put the case for Free-trade and for denominational education almost better than anyone else had done.

The Treasurer (Mr. James Watson) made his financial statement on Nov. 1. Since the Government came into office the revenue had increased from 5,000,000l. to close upon 7,250,000l. Since 1879 appropriations for public works and special services to the amount of 3,117,000l. had been authorised out of the accumulated surpluses of the last few years. Notwithstanding these appropriations Mr. Watson announced a remaining surplus of nearly 2,000,000l.note




  ― 112 ―

‘On Nov. 9, the Secretary for Lands (Sir John Robertson) moved the second reading of the ‘Bill to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the Alienation and Occupation of Crown Lands,’ The Bill did not propose to uproot the main principles of the Act of 1861 (with which Sir John was specially identified), but rather it aimed at recasting the system which had grown up under its provisions. It admitted the defects and proposed remedies; it met the abuses which time had demonstrated with safeguards against their recurrence; and it provided for many genuine reforms. Sir John explained and defended the measure at great length and with much ability. As the land question is the one on which all other questions in a new country so largely depend, I give the chief portions of Sir John Robertson's speech:—

It is within a few days of a quarter of a century ago since I declined to bring in a Bill to deal with the public lands until the Parliament was reformed, until the people were more fully represented than they then were, until we had vote by ballot, manhood suffrage, and as near an approach as we could get towards equal electoral districts. In that Session—the Session of 1858—the law was passed which gave to the people these privileges. Thus the whole people in 1861 had a potent voice in determining what should be the land law of this country. After a long struggle the land laws of 1861 were passed. If ever there was passed in any country a law which was chosen by the whole people of that country, that law was the land law which we passed in 1861. Since then the law has been to a small extent modified—first in 1875, when my honourable friend Mr. Garrett was a colleague of mine, and there was, in my opinion, no man in the country better qualified to deal with the question than he. The law was again amended by a Bill in charge of another gentleman


  ― 113 ―
of great ability and of great perseverance—a man who seemed to have to a large extent the confidence of this House. I refer to the Bill which Mr. Hoskins introduced in 1880. On both of these occasions it happened that I was a member of the Government. From 1861 until 1880, then, the law was before the representatives of the people, and met from time to time with their approbation. It is a somewhat remarkable fact that, after a quarter of a century's service in connection with this matter, administering the land law myself, or aiding other Ministers to administer it, taking a deep interest in the question during the whole of this long interval, it should become my lot once more to ask Parliament to adopt a certain course with regard to our land law. I am well aware that there are several gentlemen in this House who are far better able than I am to deal with this question. I do not mean that there is in the House any man who has had more varied experience in this matter than I have had; I do not mean that there is in the House any man who has given to the question more anxious attention than I have given to it; but I admit that there are several honourable members who intellectually are far more able than I am to deal with the question. As it happens that the lot falls upon me, and as I am not in the habit of shrinking from any duty which appears to me to be mine—especially when I know that I am quite able to deal with it—I have thought it right to take charge of this business. I have said that there are none in the House who have had more experience in connection with this question than I have had. I think I may also say that there is no one here who is more fearless, or more regardless, of consequences, in maintaining that which he believes to be right in this matter than I am. I am quite satisfied that on neither side of the House are there many who believe that I would take a course in regard to this matter which I thought was not in the public interest. The question is one of the gravest possible kind. In dealing with it we require to study alone the interest of the whole people—the interests of the country. I conceive that I have no right to endeavour to consult specially one section or another of the


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proprietors of land. I know that I take a dangerous course in the bold way in which I have dealt with this matter; but I have ever held that it is the duty of the Minister of Lands to consider the interest of the whole people, of course giving every reasonable consideration to, and dealing as tenderly as possible with, the interests already established in connection with our land. But I submit that there is something to be considered more than the interests of those who are on the land. We have to consider the interests of the whole country, and of the large body of the people who never can be owners of the Crown lands either as leaseholders or as purchasers. The great mass of the people will always be those who hold no land, but whom we have a right to consider when we are dealing with this question.

When I took charge of the land question of this country as Minister, nearly a quarter of a century ago, the land was in the hands of a few persons, who claimed and enjoyed an exclusive occupation of it, who absolutely claimed it as theirs. These persons even claimed an hereditary title to seats in the legislature, based on their holding of the Crown lands of which they were in occupation, and it was no joke to wrest this property from the hands of those who had no right to it, and to put it fairly into the hands of the whole people. It is true that we received a rent from those who held; but the rent was ridiculously small. It was scarcely worth calculation, scarcely worth counting in the receipts of the Treasury. At that time land could be purchased only at auction or in virtue of improvements. None but those who commanded a good banking account could approach the auction room with a view to purchase a piece of land directly from the Crown. That seemed to be anything but a fair state of things, because the purchasers of small means who would attempt to buy were cowed down. They did not bid at all; they gave up as hopeless any attempt to become purchasers at auction sales of Crown lands. I do not desire to say that the gentlemen then in possession of the Crown lands were any worse than ordinary people; I know they were a good deal better than ordinary people. Many of them


  ― 115 ―
were my intimate friends, and I believe that in those days the squatters of the country, as they have ever been, were very much superior to the average of the people of the country. But in the very nature of things it was to their interest to depreciate the value of Crown lands, and everyone who was in the colony then must remember, as I remember, that the greatest man we ever had here, declared in this Chamber that the Crown lands in the interior of the country were not worth per acre the smallest coin of the realm. That was the way in which the land was regarded in those days. Those who held it had no interest and no desire to encourage others to go upon it, and in every conceivable way its value was decried. Well, when I approached the question to deal with it, I endeavoured, although I did not get much credit for the endeavour, to deal as delicately as it was possible to deal with existing interests. I endeavoured to act as fairly as man could act with the gentlemen in possession of land, and I believe New South Wales stands alone among the Australias as the only colony which has never repudiated an engagement with any person in connection with its pastoral lands. In the legislation which I introduced I protected by every means in my power every existing right. At that time much of the land was held under annual leases, much of it under five years' leases, but far more under fourteen years' leases, and none of these lands were allowed to be invaded during the currency of the leases. That was not so in the other colonies; it was not so in Victoria. We respected all the rights which had been created by our predecessors, and every land-holder had fair play; but, on the other hand, as the leases fell in, the time seemed to have come when the whole people and not the lessees only, should be considered; and in dealing with the question in 1861, that was the basis on which our action proceeded. That I was tender of this great pastoral interest, although I never received any credit for that tenderness, may be seen by the Occupation Act. That Act has never been altered from that day to this except as against the squatter; no one has attempted to make it more favourable to the squatter. What was the provision I made for fixing the rents? Why,


  ― 116 ―
that each lessee should appoint an appraiser, that the Government should appoint another, and that these two should appoint an umpire, and thus the rent was fixed. The world has never seen a fairer mode of fixing a rental than that, and it continued for years, notwithstanding abuses which crept in; but we were obliged at last to give it up, because it came to this: that we were not getting anything like the rent we were entitled to get for the land. Even at this day some of the runs remain under the old mode; but they are coming in very fast under the new mode, and thus the rent is increasing, as I intend to show presently.

Knowing my opinions, which have ever been expressed freely against pre-emptive leases, I think I exhibited in respect to them also—for the matter was pretty well in my hands—a disposition to deal tenderly with existing interests. I had never spoken otherwise than against the provision for pre-emptive leases; but disturbance of land holdings is always dangerous and unwise, unless absolutely necessary, and it did not seem to me absolutely necessary to disturb that right; it is a thing to which I always objected. I did not create it, but I left it as I found it, and, although I think it is doomed, I have not thought it desirable or right to attack it in this Bill. This being the state of things, that no one could buy land except at auction, or, in the case of a lessee, by improvement right, I thought, and the Parliament thought, and the people of the country thought, it desirable to provide that those who would covenant to reside on the land and improve it, and thus develope its resources, should have certain advantages in acquiring possession of the land; thus they were not subjected to competition at auction, or the necessity of waiting for surveys, but they were permitted to select from the whole of the lands of the colony, not only before survey according to the popular cry, but whether the land was surveyed or not surveyed; such are the words of the law. They had also these advantages: that they had to pay only 25 per cent. cash, that they should go into possession at once, make certain improvements, and remain in occupation for three years without paying interest, and after that to pay 5 per cent. interest, a percentage lower than the


  ― 117 ―
Government of the colony was paying for its loans. When I say they were permitted to select from the whole of the lands of the colony, of course I mean with the exception of those lands specially exempted by the Governor and Executive Council for public objects. Yet we have been told, and we are continually told, that so many people have not remained in possession of the land as was contemplated would remain in possession of the land, and that many people who have taken up land have thought it wise to sell it, and doubtless that is true. We have been told, and I believe it is too true, that fraud has prevailed; but, at the same time, it is mere childish nonsense to say, as some people do, that the frauds have been anything like so extensive as has been represented. I have observed that it has been considered fraudulent for any person to buy land from a free selector; but you cannot find anything in exception to that in the law of 1861, or in any law that we have passed. If a man improves his land bonâ fide, and resides on it in accordance with the law, after his time of residence has expired he has as absolute a right to sell his holding as any man who buys land at auction, and therefore this attempt to hound down people who have bought land from selectors who had fulfilled the conditions of residence is simply a delusion, and no one knows it better than does the honourable member (Mr. Farnell), who administered the law so long. But vast numbers of selectors have never sold their land, vast numbers are still residing on their land, and nine-tenths of the wheat produced in New South Wales is grown on free selected land. When the law was passed, no one dreamed of tying a man to his land after his term of residence had expired. If a man's selection is too small for himself and his family, there is nothing in the law to prevent him from selling his land and taking his family to newer and wider fields, nor, when the law was passed, was it thought that there would be any wrong in his so doing. When a person has bought a number of these selections, that has been called dummying; but it is not dummying. Dummying is putting your servant, or some other person, upon land, bound down hand and foot to make it over to you when the term of residence has expired, and every time the law has been


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altered the object has been to prevent that, and to put difficulties in the way of those who wish to fraudulently take advantage of the law; and this Bill goes still further in that direction.

This policy of selling land without competition, whether surveyed or unsurveyed, and on terms of credit, has had many beneficial advantages. For example, the humblest purchaser is able to obtain land without difficulty or delay, and almost from the time when the law was passed this provision has had the effect of drawing people from the neighbouring colonies to settle here. It is a provision which is more favourable for the man of small means than any provision which exists in the laws of any of the other colonies. From the very first, people have swarmed from the other colonies to settle here—from South Australia, as we know, a number of Germans took up land at Albury. Within the last three or four weeks Mr. White, a gentleman who was deputed by a large number of farmers in South Australia to visit the various colonies, and to report on their land systems with a view to settlement, has furnished his report, and in it he passes the highest encomiums on our law and upon the prospects of people who have taken up land under it. The alienation of the land is favourable to the general public as well as to the squatter, to the free selector, to other purchasers, and to those to whom it may be mortgaged. Its alienation by free selection has had the most beneficial effect conceivable on the interests of the whole people. Before the Act was passed there was no competition whatever for what was regarded as inferior land. The lessees described the land as worthless; they said that no one would ever dream of living on it; but when the right was given to the people to enter upon it, and they did so freely, the lessees soon found that the land was worth 1l. per acre and more; this land which they said was not worth the smallest coin of the realm per acre they very soon bought in large quantities at 1l. per acre, and found that it was to their interest to do so. The money which they had paid has been poured into the Treasury, whence, under our system of government, it cannot be taken except by the approval of Parliament, which is elected by the whole people. By this system we have had money poured into the


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Treasury to be used in opening the country, and thereby promoting its progress and prosperity. I know that there are some who think that it is injurious to the interests of the country to have a large revenue flowing into the Treasury from the sale of land; but they seem to overlook the fact that the money can only be disposed of by the Parliament, which is elected by the votes of the whole people. How, under these circumstances, it can be injurious to the colony to have this revenue flowing in, is to me entirely incomprehensible. This system which I have spoken of has brought about competition which has made known to all mankind the value of these country lands of ours. The minimum price for which land has been sold by auction has been 1l. per acre, and the conditional purchasers have had to pay a like amount, thus the people in general have received fair value in money for their land. In 1861 I did not think that to abolish auction sales was desirable. It is one thing to provide that a man may have land on which to establish a home for himself, and it is another thing to say that another man who cannot reside on the land shall not buy land in the open market on a proper upset price. From the first it has been within the power of Parliament to fix the upset price of land, and it is within the power of Parliament to do so now; but I shall not advocate any increase in the price. I know that there are some conscientious gentlemen, who are as well acquainted with the subject as I am, who think that auction sales ought to be abolished; but I am afraid that they forget that the interests of the great landowners of the country—the whole of the people—would be left out in the cold if we abolished sales by auction.

It must be obvious to everyone that there are people who cannot reside on the land, and they would be prevented from having a fair enjoyment of the rights of citizenship if it were not in their power to buy land at auction. Besides, it was an old-established and customary mode of sale. I have shown that even when the law in force in the country was framed entirely irrespective of the will of the people, framed by a power irresponsible to the people, by a power nominated from afar—I have shown that even with regard to those laws I felt it right to


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deal delicately with interests thus called into existence. What, then, can honourable members expect from me now other than that, unless where change appears necessary, I will adhere to the provisions of the law which originally sprang from the people, as the present law did, and which has over and over again been maintained by the will of the people? Could it be expected that I would not endeavour to re-enact what is good in the law, and, at the same time, be willing to leave out anything which can be fairly shown to be bad? It ought to be remembered that on no question is it so undesirable to have unnecessary changes as it is on questions affecting the holding of land—I mean fundamental changes. It cannot raise our character in the estimation of other people if we frequently change our land laws. Everyone must know how inconvenient it would be, and how the interests of the country in every way would suffer by any change which unnecessarily disturbed existing interests. What has been the effect of the law? Let us consider fairly, and without prejudice, the state of the country before the law was passed and its present state. The land was locked up. We all know that the land is the source of all wealth. What was our position at the time in other respects? We were without roads, without bridges, without railways, without telegraphs, and without a thousand other advantages which we now possess. We had no money and no credit; we were unable to pay the monthly wages of the employés of the Government. I remember one occasion when the Treasurer, who was fortunately a wealthy man, actually advanced money from his own credit to pay the employés' wages. This was the position in which we were before the land law of 1861 came into full operation. If I were to pass away to-morrow I should leave the country in a state very different from that in which it was when I succeeded in passing the land law. I should leave New South Wales prosperous; her people well employed and happy; her Treasury overflowing; her revenues increasing; her credit equal to that of any country in the world; her position established as the first, the freest, the most hopeful, the most powerful, and the most prosperous of the Australian colonies. Let us see how it is that


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we can credit the land law with the change to prosperity from the terrible state of poverty and depression in which we were sunk in years gone by. We have now such a revenue that, as the Treasurer has told us, we shall be able to carry on large undertakings without exercising for a long time to come the authority which Parliament has given to borrow for their construction. Let me see whether I cannot connect the land law with this wonderful change; I think I shall be able to do so. I took charge of the Lands Office in January, 1858. During the year before, the whole revenue from Crown lands—from all sources other than sales—was 118,149l. 8s. 8d. This was our annual revenue, and let it be borne in mind that Queensland was part of our territory then. Last year our revenue—of course without Queensland's territory—from land, irrespective of sales, was 591,007l. 7s. 1d., and the Treasurer estimates the revenue for 1883, from the same source, at 725,350l., or almost 1l. per head for every person in the colony. This is an evidence of wealth such as no country in the world can show. This revenue is raised without oppressing anyone. The free selector is able to retain the use of his money at as reasonable a rate of interest as he could get it in any part of the world, namely, 5 per cent., and, like the squatter, is prosperous.

It must be remembered that, notwithstanding this revenue of 725,350l. we have had paid into the Treasury for land some 25,000,000l., which has been applied to purposes decided upon by the Parliament elected by the whole people of the country. This large sum has been paid into the public Treasury, and we still have 750,000l. a year for the use of the remaining land. This revenue is increasing year by year, and it will continue to increase, notwithstanding croakers in the country who have ever predicted ruin and desolation from the law, and said that it would destroy the pastoral interest and everything else. Let us see what the proceeds of the sales of land were in 1857. In that year, when the two colonies, New South Wales and Queensland, were undivided, the revenue from the land sales amounted to 210,333l. 17s. 3d. Last year the proceeds of the land sales in New South Wales amounted to 2,229,981l. 6s. 3d. The


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Colonial Treasurer estimates that the proceeds of our land sales for next year will be 1,765,000l.; but we are in this position: that if we wished to increase that by another million we could do it. We find that people are willing to buy land to the extent of another million or two sterling next year, without any reduction in the price below 1l. per acre, if it were considered well to sell it. That is the position New South Wales is in, and that is the reason why our credit is so good; it is because by the free selectors going on the land and creating competition we have a proof of the value of the lands of the colony. What have we been doing with our live stock? After all, there is no greater source of wealth in this land than our sheep; and there is no source of wealth which brings in more money than sheep. What is the position of our sheep? I have not been able to get the returns for any period earlier than 1861. In 1861 we had 5,615,064 sheep; in 1881 we had 36,519,946 sheep. That is an increase of 650 per cent. on the twenty years. Now, let us look at our neighbours, and see what number they have. In 1861 Victoria had 6,239,258 sheep, and that colony now has 10,360,285 sheep. Thus, while our increase has been 650 per cent., the increase in Victoria has been only 65 per cent.

We have only a comparatively small population, and they have a right to do with their labour and capital that which they think best. They have done what they thought best, and they thought that farming was not the best thing to do. Yet our own supply of grain approaches much more nearly to the requirements of the country than it did before the Act of 1861 was passed, and, even if it were not so, I should like to know how any one could blame the Land Law of 1861 for it. Surely when a man is put on the land on the easiest terms upon which land was ever given to man in the world, if he will not farm it that cannot be the fault of the law! It may be the fault of the country or of the people; but it is really the fault of neither. It is because every man will do that which seems to him best with his labour and his capital. That is the reason why we have not so much farming perhaps as some of the other colonies. I am quite satisfied that no one here will dispute that our people


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are better paid, better fed, and better off than the people of any of the neighbouring colonies; and, after all, that is the main thing. They are better paid and better clothed and in every way happier than people in the other colonies. We have seen no deputations sent from New South Wales to South Australia to see whether they can get a place to put their heads in. We have not heard of 50,000 people going over the border from New South Wales to get on to the land in Victoria, however frequently we may have heard of the opposite being the case. We know that our people are quite satisfied with their condition here, and let it be remembered that the increase of our population is progressing to a larger extent than that of the population of any of the other colonies.

After this exposition and defence of the principles of his past land legislation, Sir John Robertson explained the provisions of the new Bill which had been framed to cure defects and eradicate abuses in the administration of the old law, and concluded as follows:

Throughout the Bill the taking up of land has been made easier for the fair-dealing conditional purchaser, and more difficult and more dangerous for the conditional purchaser who attempts to fraudulently make use of the law. I have now given what appears to me to be a sufficient exposition of the past, that is, the past anterior to the law of 1861, of the working of the law of 1861, and of the changes contemplated by this Bill. I have given an immense amount of trouble to the preparation of the Bill, and I have been assisted by a number of the ablest and best officers of the Department of Lands, who in my opinion are equal to the best who have ever served the country, and I feel, whether it should be so or not, that the Bill deserves to be read a second time.

Mr. Stuart, who led the opposition to the Bill, spoke at considerable length, and with much cleverness. He complimented the Minister on his distinguished services


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and ability in connection with the public lands, but he contended that the country called loudly for radical changes. If the House was prepared to sanction the continuance of the vital principles of the present law, then he at once acknowledged that the Bill was an immense improvement, ‘because,’ said he, ‘a carefully prepared consolidation of so complicated a set of laws as those at present governing our land administration is in itself an enormous gain.’ But the House was called upon to go a great way beyond this. ‘I contend,’ urged Mr. Stuart, ‘that the vital principle of the present land law, which is perpetuated in the Bill placed before us, is indiscriminate free selections before survey.’ That I consider to be at the base of an immense amount of the evil which has characterised the administration of our land law, and of the feuds and difficulties which beset us on every hand. If any stranger were to form his opinion of the state of our land system from the speech which has just been delivered, I could imagine him, after hearing the speech, going away perfectly convinced that this must be a happy and contented people living under such an administration. Can we, however, shut our eyes to what is going on around us? What is our experience of the last few years—the last ten years—of the working of the land law? Does our experience accord with the rosy-coloured complexion given to it in the speech we have just heard? That we have made great advances in material prosperity no one can deny; but that we have been living under a sort of hot-house forcing system with regard to those large sums of money which have been flowing into the


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Treasury it is equally impossible to deny.’ He believed the people were loud in their demands for a change. He warned the House against consenting to go into committee to amend the Bill. A very different measure was needed to meet the wants of the people. He declined to move any amendment; but he had formulated the principles which ought to be embodied in any new land Bill, and he would read them to the House:

  • 1. Indiscriminate selection before survey condemned.
  • 2. Colony to be divided into two or more classes of districts.
  • 3. Division of present runs or leases. One-half to be leased by present lessees for seven, ten, or fifteen years, according to the class of district, but without any right of purchase by virtue of improvements.
  • 4. The other, or resumed half, to be open to selection by (a) conditional purchases in the inner and intermediate districts with increased maximum of area, but without pre-leases, and as far as possible within surveyed areas; (b) conditional leaseholds of enlarged areas in outer districts.
  • 5. Reduction of deposits on conditional purchases to 2s. per acre, but final payment in twenty-one years.
  • 6. Present system of auction sales to be abolished.
  • 7. Local land boards to enquire in open court into all matters affecting the administration of the law, with right of appeal from its decisions.
  • 8. Present conditional purchase holders may come under these provisions, half their pre-leases being secured for five years, with right of purchase.
  • 9. Reserves on each side of railway-lines.

And Mr. Stuart concluded: ‘Upon this platform I am prepared to take my stand in the matter of land reform; and as the Bill before us does not contain any one of


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those principles, but as its provisions are entirely antagonistic to every one of them, I see no other course to take than to reject the Bill in toto, let the consequences be what they may.’

The weak spots in the proposed reforms of Mr. Stuart were seen by the experienced eyes at the time. It was foretold how the runs would be divided, and how the people in many instances would get the worst half. Other delusive features were pointed out. But Mr. Stuart's bait had a showy appearance, and for the moment it was an adroit move.

The debate continued until a late hour on the 16th, when the House divided, with 33 for the second reading and 43 against it. The division in one sense was a surprise to us; in another sense a result expected. Several members who hitherto had supported the Ministry now, without any intimation of their intention, voted against us. Two gentlemen in particular who had regularly sat behind us, and who, on the night of the division, continued to occupy their accustomed seats, chatting cordially and confidentially with myself and other of the Ministers, turned up in the seats opposite to us when the votes were counted. Of course such things were a surprise. But the Ministry had existed too long, nearly four years. Even in England, nowadays, one element of danger to a Ministry is the length of Ministerial life. We knew there were men sitting on our side, and occasionally professing confidence in us, who were simply waiting for the opportunity when their votes against us could be effective. Some few were biding their time to punish us for the triumph of


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the Public Instruction Act in 1880; others, on lower grounds, had met with denials which they ill brooked; others again were prepared to risk a change on the chances of what might happen. At any rate, we were defeated by a decisive majority, and the Assembly never met again.

Believing that we possessed the confidence of the country, we advised a dissolution, and our advice was accepted by the Governor. In the appeal to the electors the ground of attack was to a large extent shifted by our opponents, and the Ministry were covered by a flood of vile accusations. The result of the elections was adverse, and we retired on January 4, 1883, four years and fifteen days after our acceptance of office. The next four years saw the birth and death of four Ministries, and no fewer than thirty-one different men holding Ministerial office. The first of our successors lasted two years and nine months; the second seventy-five days, the third sixty-six days, and the fourth ten months and twenty-four days. The principal legislative measures of this chequered period of four years were the Land Act of 1883, the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, and the Customs Duties Act of 1887; the most notable feat in administration was the unconstitutional despatch of Australian troops to the Soudan.

As the outcome of the General Election at the close of 1882, Mr. Stuart came into office on January 5 following. I had lost my seat for East Sydney, but I had been immediately returned without opposition, and without appearing as a candidate, for the district of Tenterfield. Being released from office, and finding


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my health still suffering from the effects of my illness in 1881, I determined upon another visit to Europe. I offered to resign my seat in Parliament, but my new constituents decided in public meeting that I should retain it during my absence. I left Sydney early in the year, and did not return until the end of August 1884. I spent several weeks in the United States, portion of the time with friends in Boston, and part in New York. While in the former city, Lord Chief Justice Coleridge was entertained at a public banquet by General Butler, who was Governor of Massachusetts at the time. Being one of the guests, I found a new source of enjoyment in the dexterous word-play between the fire-eating General and the placid Lord Chief Justice in their curious interchange of compliments to each other's country. On the following day I was, on the invitation of the Governor, one of a party organised by him to visit the manufacturing town of Lowell. The party included Mr. Gilbert Coleridge, Governor Jarvis, Colonel Means, Colonel Derosset, General Dalton, the Honourable Wellington Smith, Lieutenant McLellan, and others, besides the Lord Chief Justice and Governor Butler. We spent some hours in inspecting the cotton factories, none of which were in full work. In the afternoon we were hospitably entertained by General Butler, at his mansion overlooking the Merrimac. During my subsequent stay in New York, I received much attention and kindness from the eminent jurist, Mr. Dudley Field, from Sir Roderick Cameron, General Hawley, Mr. Jay Gould, and other well-known citizens.




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I find the following entry in my Diary of Sept. 18:—‘Saw President Arthur and the Secretary of State at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. Spoke to both on the Wool Duties and the Pacific Mail Service; and both seemed favourable to my views. The Secretary of State said plainly that a further reduction of duties would come.’ This interview is referred to in a previous chapter.

I visited the Immigration Depôt at Castle Garden. Eight hundred immigrants had arrived that morning, 75 per cent. of whom had been sent away by various trains before the evening. The Department, I was informed,—indeed the books were thrown open for my inspection,—takes care of their money and valuables, makes careful enquires as to the districts where they are most likely to find engagements, protects them from the class of persons seeking to prey upon them, offers advice founded on special knowledge, and looks after the destitute and sick. The organisation appeared to be very complete.

On the 19th I went on board the Cunard steamship Pavonia for England. I landed at Liverpool on the 29th, and during my short stay in that city received much civility from the Mayor, William Radcliffe, Esq. I was shown through St. George's Hall, the Rotunda Library, the Museum, and other public places. I was much struck by my inspection of the Waterloo grain warehouses, containing seven acres of floors, and of the Langton and Alexandra Docks.

I left Liverpool by train at 11.5 A.M. on October 2, in a reserved carriage courteously granted to me by the Company, and reached London at 3.25 P.M.




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While in England, I on several occasions had the honour—looking back now it is coloured by the feelings of a genuine sorrow—of receiving Robert Browning among my visitors at my lodgings. We had many chats concerning his intercourse with Walter Savage Landor in Italy, on Mr. Barrett Browning's pictures, and in reference to eminent men in literature. At that time the poet was seventy-two years of age, but he had not taken to spectacles, and he seemed slightly proud of his well-preserved eyesight. On one occasion, when other persons were present, the conversation turned upon handwriting, when Browning took a pen and wrote his name on a piece of paper in characters so small that I have often seen young people bend their heads to read it. The signature lies before me now, the letters distinctly and neatly formed, and the whole inscription, ‘Robert Browning, January 15, '84,’ within the space of seven-eighths of an inch. When I was leaving England, Mr. Browning wrote in a volume of his poems which I hold with my few treasures: ‘All health and happiness to my friend Sir Henry Parkes. He carries away with him the grateful and affectionate remembrances of Robert Browning. July 2, 1884.’ A little more than five years afterwards the poet passed away to his last home, but I remember his sweet, joyous face as it lightened the atmosphere wherever it appeared, and I feel that I am better for having known him. In my own efforts and failures his beautiful words console me:

What hand and brain went ever paired?
What heart alike conceived and dared?
What act proved all its thought had been?
What will but felt the fleshy screen?




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I saw much of my dear friend Thomas Woolner, often spent happy hours with the noble old devotee of science, Richard Owen, was for days together the guest of the illustrious author of ‘Locksley Hall’; and I was introduced to many remarkable men, which made my second sojourn in England extremely pleasant. Among the persons I met I recall to memory Mr. Kinglake, Mr. Waddington, General Sir Henry Norman (now Governor of Queensland), Mr. Bret Harte, the Rev. B. Jowett, Professor Huxley, Lord Aberdare, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and many others.

I feel that I owe much to the consideration and kindness of some whose guest I often had the happiness to be—to Lord Armstrong, Mr. Lecky, the historian, Sir Anthony Hoskins, the late Mr. W. E. Forster, Sir Richard Owen, and Mr. Thomas B. Potter, as well as to my personal friends Mr. Woolner, Sir William Ogg, Sir Daniel Cooper, Mr. Donald Larnach, and that true servant of New South Wales, Sir Saul Samuel.

Amongst the old Australians in London whom I often saw was Sir John Darvall. He was a brilliant figure at the Sydney Bar before I was known to the Australian public, and he strenuously supported my election for Sydney in 1854, speaking at many of my meetings. I dined with Sir John at his house in Upper Wimpole Street on October 26, 1883, and never saw him afterwards. He was then so nearly blind that he had difficulty in recognising the members of his own family. He came close to me before he knew me, but in voice and features he was little changed. He spoke with surprising distinctness of the old times when I


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used to sit in the Assembly till midnight, and then go to ‘The Empire’ office and work for hours on the paper, and of old political faces of those days; but he seemed to know little of the present state of the colony. He soon afterwards passed away. I knew him well in public life, both as a friend and as an opponent; and he was a gallant-hearted man.

In these days I saw much of Sir Daniel Cooper, whose genial nature and kindness of heart were always the same. With him, too, I sat in the old Legislature, partly nominative and partly elective, before Responsible Government, and it seemed like the revival of old relations to meet him so often.

My good friend, Sir Saul Samuel, was then, as always, ready with his smile of welcome and his proffered service, and he did all in his power to make my brief London life a pleasure. My acquaintance with Sir Saul now extends over half a century, and I have known few truer men.

I find the following entry in my diary:—‘October 29. Went with Mr. J. H. de Ricci to Fair-trade meeting in Cockspur Street. Sir Eardley Wilmot, Mr. Sampson Lloyd, Sir William Wheelhouse, Mr. Richard Russell, and Captain Bedford Pim took part. Captain Pim “was an old-fashioned Protectionist; no humbug of Fair-trade for him.” Mr. Russell was “an old Protectionist: the Government ought to tax everything.” Sir W. Wheelhouse: “The Government was not worth its salt, if not prepared to tax everything when necessary.” I left Mr. de Ricci with his friends, and preferred the street.’




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Some business I had in hand took me several times to Scotland. In Edinburgh I had a letter of introduction to Sir Alexander Grant, with whom I spent some agreeable hours, and who took me over the university. I was taken to Loch Awe by Mr. John Blair, and to Abbotsford by Mr. John Murray of Galashiels. At Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen I addressed public meetings, convened for the purpose, on the subject of Australian progress. In these several journeys I was treated with unexpected hospitality by new friends. I travelled as far as Braemar and the Links of Dee; but my movements were very hurried, and I had little time for enquiry.

On October 18 I left Edinburgh for Leeds to attend a great Reform meeting, which was held in St. George's Hall. It was estimated that some 4,000 persons were present. The chair was occupied by Mr. John Bright; the principal speakers were Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Mr. John Morley, and Mr. Herbert Gladstone. There were many ladies present, chiefly occupying the front seats in the galleries. I had several reasons for attending this meeting at some considerable trouble. It had been much talked of as a reawakening of interest in the cause of Parliamentary reform; I had a strong desire to hear Mr. Bright once more on a popular platform; and I wished to be in a position to institute some comparison between a great English meeting and a great Australian meeting, both in respect to the composition of the assemblage and the style and manner of the speaking. Mr. Bright appeared to speak with a subdued passion at times almost pathetic,


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and with little of the biting humour of bygone years. Mr. Morley struck me as one accustomed to a different kind of audience, though his matter was excellent. Sir Wilfrid was strikingly Wilfrid-Lawsonish. I never heard Mr. Bright speak again. The Leeds audience was very much like a Sydney or Melbourne audience; and a Melbourne or Sydney meeting would look quite as English as the one at Leeds. On the following morning I had a brief conversation with Mr. Bright in the railway carriage when he was on the point of leaving for Liverpool. He expressed surprise that I should have come all the way from Edinburgh to hear him.

I afterwards visited the ‘Leeds Mercury’ office, and saw Sir Edward Baines. I had had some intercourse with him, then member for Leeds, in 1862, on the subject of emigration to Australia. Sir Edward was now in his eighty-fourth year, apparently very vigorous still, and he took a lively interest in a conversation started by Mr. Talbot Baines on Australian affairs. I left for London the same day.

In November and December, 1883, a convention of the Australasian Governments was held in Sydney, including Fiji, which was represented by its Governor, Sir G. William Des Væux. The convention was mainly the outcome of public discussions and correspondence between the Australian governments, arising from the action of Queensland in taking possession of New Guinea in Her Majesty's name; but the scope of its business was gradually enlarged to the inclusion of other subjects. It was proposed by one set of resolutions


  ― 135 ―
to urge the annexation of, or the constituting a Protectorate over, all the islands of the Western Pacific from the Equator to the New Hebrides; by another proposal, to declare that any further acquisition of dominion by a foreign Power in the islands of the Western Pacific south of the Equator would be highly detrimental to the safety and well-being of Her Majesty's Australasian possessions. The convention sat ten days and discussed many subjects, but it is not my intention here to deal with its decisions, but to confine myself to my own action at the same time in England.

So far back as the year 1874 I had urged upon Sir Hercules Robinson, as Her Majesty's representative, the sound policy of colonising New Guinea. In a minute which is published as Appendix II. to these volumes, after narrating the steps which had been taken by parties connected with New South Wales towards the exploration of the Island, I concluded with this paragraph:—‘The importance of New Guinea to the English empire now rapidly forming in this part of the world cannot be over-estimated. Its close proximity to the Australian coast, its territorial extent, the valuable character of its lands, its known mineral wealth, the pearl fisheries in the neighbouring seas, give to it a prominence in the progress of these colonies which will go on increasing every year. Its colonisation by a foreign Power could not fail of giving rise to many embarrassments. Its colonisation by Great Britain would be hailed with universal approbation throughout Australasia.’ Some years later the Government of Queensland, by one of its officers, took possession of New Guinea and hoisted the English flag on its soil,


  ― 136 ―
which act was repudiated by the English Government. I had many conversations with influential persons in London on this subject, and forming my views from what I gathered as the opinions in high circles, I telegraphed and wrote to Sir Alexander Stuart, that, if the convention confined its efforts to the colonisation of New Guinea, it would be much more likely to succeed than it would be if it included New Ireland and other groups of the adjacent islands in its representations. The convention, however, took the opposite course, with what result is well known. I opened a correspondence with Lord Chancellor Selborne in which I strongly advocated the wisdom of taking possession of New Guinea as part of Australia; and I fear a great mistake has been made, looking to the Australian future, in letting things remain until the flag of another great European Power has been hoisted over part of the island.

I left England early in July, 1884, by my old ship the White Star liner Germanic and with my old friend Captain Kennedy, for New York. After some days spent among my American friends, I made the railway journey to San Francisco in five days and eighteen hours, staying nowhere on the way. Some few days were given to my friends in San Francisco, when I left by the steamship City of Sydney for my Australian home. A pleasant passage, without any unusual incident, ended in Port Jackson on August 29. As the ship steamed up the noble harbour my old colleagues and political friends were waiting for me on the wharf, and in the evening I was welcomed by another banquet in the Town Hall.




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5. CHAPTER V

RETURN TO POLITICAL LIFE—A LONG SESSION OF PARLIAMENT—PROFLIGATE RAILWAY PROPOSALS—RESIGNATION OF MY SEAT—THE MILITARY EXPEDITION TO EGYPT—MY PROTEST—DETERMINE TO OFFER MYSELF FOR THE FIRST VACANT SEAT IN PARLIAMENT AS THE ONLY CONSTITUTIONAL MEANS OF TESTING PUBLIC FEELING—ELECTED FOR ARGYLE—STEPS TAKEN BY SIR ALEXANDER STUART FOR MY EXPULSION—THE RESULTS—FIRST CONCEPTION OF THE PUBLIC WORKS ACT.

AFTER my return I resumed my place on the Opposition benches of the Assembly, generally voting with my old friends but not taking a forward part in the debates. For months past the Land Bill embodying Mr. Stuart's famous principles, as enunciated in the debate at the close of the Session of 1882, had been struggling through Parliament. The Session itself had been dragging its toilsome length along since Oct. 9, 1883, and it actually did not come to an end until Nov. 1, 1884; that is, it continued twenty-two days over the entire year. Notwithstanding the unprecedented length of the Session which passed the Stuart Land Act, there were five other Sessions in the three years' life of the Parliament; one of four months within a day, one of four days, one of eight days, one of ten days, and one of twenty-two days. These facts alone are sufficient to satisfy any mind acquainted with


  ― 138 ―
the principles of Parliamentary government that the ‘new party’ had succeeded in producing a rich harvest of confusion and some monstrous anomalies. They carried one measure by the prodigious toils of 1884, but even that measure has been recast by several amending Acts since.

During the latter part of 1884, I addressed several public meetings in different parts of the country, and pointed out what I believed to be abuses charged with evil consequences to the country; and it is certain, from the evidence of subsequent events, that public dissatisfaction was fast rising to a head. But circumstances arose which led me to resign my seat for Tenterfield.

The Government had submitted to the Assembly some new railway proposals, one of which was from a small town on the tableland of New England to the town of South Grafton on the Clarence river,—the greater part of the distance, 103 miles, being over an unproductive, rugged, mountainous country where no settlement existed or could exist. The estimate was 2,000,000l. sterling. A member of the Government a short time previously had condemned this route as utterly indefensible, and other members of the Assembly, who were personally acquainted with the character of the country, described it privately to their fellow members as one which only a madman would think of, and declared their intention of voting against it at all hazards. Yet I afterwards saw these very members, without a word of explanation, vote for the proposal which they had so vehemently condemned. This vote


  ― 139 ―
did not stand alone, though it appeared to be the most profligate. I had joined with the minority in resisting these proposals, but they were approved with insolent triumph. I felt that my life could be better employed than in this kind of warfare, and I said so in a letter to the electors of Tenterfield, informing them of my resignation. I dare say my resignation was an imprudent act, but I fear I have often been guilty of imprudence. At that time I had no intention of seeking re-election to the Assembly, and was endeavouring to shape my life in the direction of other objects. Indeed, I can say with truth that Parliamentary life of itself has never had supreme attractions for me.

I advert to these circumstances, not with any view of reviving a discussion on the railway proposals of the Stuart Ministry (any such discussion would be outside the scope of this book), but because it is necessary in connection with a Ministerial effort made in the following year to degrade me in public life. A little more than three months later, the ‘brilliant idea’ of sending a military contingent to Egypt was opened upon the country by one of the Ministers (Mr. Attorney-General Dalley) in the absence of both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. ‘Brilliant’ was the key-note to the foolish and ephemeral excitement. ‘A History of the Patriotic Movement,’ issued from the Government Printing Office a few months afterwards, presumably under properly instructed editors, announced to the world that the action of the Government was approved by the virtually unanimous voice of the country, ‘as a bold and brilliant inspiration of genius.’ But there


  ― 140 ―
were two claimants for the ‘flash of inspiration,’ Sir Edward Strickland, K.C.B., as well as Mr. Dalley. The former in a published letter of Feb. 12, 1885, called upon, not New South Wales alone, but all Christendom, to rise and crush the Saracens led by the Mahdi before they became as formidable as their renowned ancestors. The Rump Ministry under Mr. Dalley met on the same day, and decided to send the following telegram to the British Government:—

The Government offer to Her Majesty's Government two batteries of its Permanent Field Artillery, with ten 16-lb. guns, properly horsed; also an effective and disciplined Battalion of Infantry, 500 strong. The artillery will be under the command of Colonel Roberts, R.A., the whole force under the command of Colonel Richardson, the commandant; and undertaking to land the force at Suakim within thirty days from embarkation. Reply at once.—W. B. DALLEY. Feb. 12, 1885.

The reply was not immediate, but on the third day after the ‘brilliant inspiration of genius,’ it came in these sober words:—

Her Majesty's Government accept, with much satisfaction, offer of your Government, upon the understanding that force must be placed absolutely under orders of General Commanding as to the duties upon which it will be employed. Force of artillery is greater than is required; only one battery accepted. Transport should call at Aden for orders. If your Government prefer the immediate despatch of your contingent, the War Office does not desire to delay it. Press comment very favourably on your splendid offer.

From the first moment all my faculties of commonsense and discernment, all my feelings of patriotism and loyalty to the Empire, were opposed to this movement,


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which I looked upon as uncalled-for, unjustifiable, and Quixotic. Having no seat now in Parliament, I embodied my views in the following letter to the leading metropolitan journal:—

To the Editor of the ‘Herald.’

Sir,—If it be the case that the movement for sending the greater part of our military force to Egypt is enthusiastically supported by the people of this country, then there is all the more justice in hearing what the unsupported minority have to say. So far as I am concerned, I am quite content to stand alone. If obloquy, or even denunciation, is to be measured out to those who dissent from the Government, I do not shrink from my share of the punishment. I think I see grounds for raising my voice as a citizen against the thing which is being done, and I will endeavour to explain what those grounds are.

I have no hard word to say of Mr. Dalley. Since he has been in office, Mr. Dalley has done many things well, and he has done some things in which I heartily concur. I shall be as well pleased as any of his friends to see his public services receive a fitting recognition. But Mr. Dalley has taken his view of the situation, and given effect to it with a vengeance; and I desire only to be allowed to take my view of the same state of circumstances.

In the first place, I deny the existence of any national crisis calling for the interference of a colony of 900,000 souls in the military movements of the Empire. The war in Egypt is a war of invasion against barbarous tribes, who, in comparison with us, are fighting on their own soil. There is no pretence on our part of conquest on the one hand or of the defence of human rights on the other. The whole lamentable struggle, as avowed, is to establish a government of purity and order out of elements of corruption and disorder, and then to retire from the soil of Egypt. England has set her hand to this sad task, and if she cannot accomplish it without our aid, she certainly will never succeed with our aid.




  ― 142 ―

In the next place, I assert that there can be no greater folly than to foster a spurious spirit of military ardour in a country like ours, where every man is wanted to take his part, in some form or other, in colonising work. The economic aspect of the question presents features which would be ludicrous if they were not suicidal. With the right hand we are expending our revenues to import able-bodied men to subjugate the soil, while with the left hand we propose to squander our revenues to deport men to subjugate Sir Edward Strickland's ‘Saracens.’ However men may delude themselves, this is not patriotism; this is not loyalty; this is not true British sense of duty. It is the cry of ‘Wolf’ when there is no wolf; and it is to be earnestly hoped that the fable will have no application when the wolf verily comes. All the misty talk about the ‘tight little island’ and ‘heroic federation’ will dissipate itself in the clear atmosphere of time and reason. Six months hence the colony will be ashamed of what is now being done.

But we are told that England accepts our noble offer. Yes; and has not Lord Rosebery telegraphed out to Mr. Dalley the inspiriting words, ‘Well done!’ But it is added on the other side of the world that the offer has been accepted ‘in compliment to New South Wales.’ For some little time past the good old colony has been of much use to the Imperial Government. It has enabled Her Majesty's Ministers to declare that the Australian colonies are not united in their claims about New Guinea and the islands of the Pacific. And within the last few days Mr. Dalley has piped bravely to the tune of Lord Derby and international colonisation. The good old colony deserves a special compliment.

The offer of our small body of artillery and infantry is accepted in a modified form, on an express condition which is worthy of consideration. It is accepted not simply ‘on the understanding that the force must be placed absolutely under the orders of the General Commanding’—that would be easily understood, and only what all men would expect—but the force is to be placed absolutely under the orders of the General Commanding ‘as to the duties upon which it will be employed.’ The


  ― 143 ―
words I have placed in italics are in no sense necessary to express obedience to military orders, but, combined with the refusal to accept the two batteries of artillery, they point clearly enough to the use which will be made of the soldiers from New South Wales. The pride of England must have fallen very low if she is prepared to exhibit the spectacle before the military Powers of Europe of her armies marching against the Mahdi and his barbarous hordes, supported by 600 men from one of her colonies. But putting aside all considerations of national dignity, is it conceivable that the New South Wales contingent will be sent to the front and Imperial troops left behind to do garrison duty? I attach every weight to the characteristic telegram from Lord Wolseley; but the genius of command in military as in civil affairs consists largely in the sagacity to dispose of available forces to most advantage; and in the practical settlement of matters we may be sure that, while other duties have to be performed, our Australian heroes will have little chance of distinguishing themselves on the field of battle. In confirmation of this view of the case, your telegram this morning tells us that our men will be employed in protecting the navvies on the railway works between Suakim and Berber.

I have every confidence in the material of our little army of defenders, and believe that, if the occasion arises, they will give a good account of themselves. I see no reason why they should be of inferior metal or wanting in the highest qualities of the soldier. But we know the bias of officers who have commanded large bodies of regular troops; and it would be folly to expect a preference given to any colonial force over the highly disciplined men of the British army.

One word on the higher question of genuine loyalty. I yield to no man in attachment to the throne and institutions of England. But my notion of loyalty is a steady and consistent performance of duty as citizens of the Empire, at all times and under all circumstances, in principle and in policy, and as much in peace as in war. If a time should unhappily come when England shall be engaged in a great conflict with a great Power, even then, as I have already said, our first duty will be


  ― 144 ―
to hold inviolate the part of the Empire where our lot is cast; and, this sacred trust secured, to give life and fortune freely, if we have them to spare, beyond our own shores.

I am, &c.

HENRY PARKES.

Sydney, February 18, 1885.

I followed up this with other letters in support of my views; and soon other correspondents came into the field on the same side.

I do not think many persons who may calmly read this letter now will see in it anything more than a fair expression of my views of dissent. But all the papers published in Sydney set upon me like ravenous wolves. No term of obloquy was too black to be applied to me. If I had committed some shocking outrage upon public liberty, or if I had been a veritable ‘Saracen,’ I could not have been abused more thoroughly. Fortunately for me, I had already learned to coldly appraise the wild censures or the wild praises of the newspaper press at their true value, and I do not think I slept less soundly for all this abuse. At first I stood almost alone in my opposition, but I felt assured the country would soon recover its senses. In the midst of the commotion—the foolish craze on the one hand, and the slow awakening of reason on the other—it appeared to me that there was but one way of constitutionally testing the opinion of the country, and I determined that, on the first occurrence of a vacancy, I would offer myself again for a seat in the Assembly as the most conspicuous opponent of the Government in respect to the Soudan Expedition, without regard to any other circumstance. The first vacancy occurred


  ― 145 ―
on March 17, 1885, for the Electorate of Argyle, a district where I had no connections and was personally a stranger, and where it was known that a large section of the electors would on sectarian grounds vote against me to a man. I offered myself on the ground I had taken up, and certainly I should never have offered myself at all if the Soudan contingent had not been sent away. The opposing candidate was a man of education and a fluent speaker, and he had the advantage of being connected with one of the Metropolitan daily papers which were engaged in the pleasant work of writing me down. The Government did not hesitate to use whatever influence they could command against me. One gentleman who was a member of the Stuart Ministry when it was first formed, though he afterwards retired, Mr. Henry Copeland, travelled all the way from Sydney with congenial companions to fight on the side of my opponent. Money was freely expended against me which, if it did not bring votes to the other side, brought custom to the public-houses. For my part I refused to sanction the expenditure of a single shilling in the public-houses, and in point of fact the forty pounds, which the law required me to deposit with the Returning Officer before the nomination, covered my election expenses, leaving a small balance. As the result of the polling I was returned by a majority of some fifty votes. From this point the sickly enthusiasm over the ‘brilliant inspiration of genius’ paled away; and nowadays no one thinks of saying a word to excuse the Soudan Expedition.

The Legislative Assembly did not meet until


  ― 146 ―
September 8, when I took my seat as member for Argyle. Sir Alexander Stuart at once called attention to my letter to the electors of Tenterfield in November of the previous year, which was read by the clerk. I was called upon from the Chair for any explanation I desired to make; and I give the first part of my short speech:—

As I have said, Sir, I shall not seek to shelter myself behind a question of order, or avail myself of the circumstance that I was not a member of the Assembly at the time I uttered the sentiments complained of. As I understand the Colonial Secretary, he has felt it his duty to complain on behalf of some honourable members that on November 3 last I uttered these words:

In the present Parliament political character has almost disappeared from the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, and personal objects—to put the matter in the mildest form—have, to a large extent, absorbed that kind of consideration which has taken the place of deliberation and legitimate debate. I have lately seen immense sums of public money voted away by private pressure and bargaining in the face of the openly avowed convictions of members so pliantly yielding up their consciences.

Those are the words which I understand have given offence. Those words are mine. Those words are sufficiently plain. I do not profess to be a very able exponent of the English language, but I think they are sufficiently clear to convey my meaning. That was my meaning then; that is my meaning now; and I see no reason to say one word to qualify, still less to withdraw, the words. I contend that I have said no more than the most illustrious members of the two Houses of the Imperial Parliament have continually said of conduct of which they strongly disapproved.

Sir Alexander Stuart, in a short condemnatory speech, then moved:—

That, in the opinion of this House, the statements made by


  ― 147 ―
the honourable member for Argyle, Sir Henry Parkes, in his address on November 3 last, announcing his retirement from the representation of Tenterfield, and published in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of November 4 last, are a gross libel on this House.

This resolution, after a long and acrimonious debate, was passed by 31 to 27 votes.

Undoubtedly the intention was to follow this up by a motion for my expulsion, but after this rather unsatisfactory division, and a still more unsatisfactory count of votes, Sir Alexander and his friends agreed to drop the matter as disagreeable.

When the Speaker intimated that there was no motion before the House, I rose and uttered the following words as reported in the official debates:—

I shall feel highly dissatisfied unless some further step is taken. If we are to rest with this motion, the Government are doing that which to me is a far higher consideration than anything which can affect me personally—they are making a laughing-stock of the Parliament of the country. The matter as it stands now cannot affect me. There will not be one man in the country who will think less of me, but there will be tens of thousands who will think more of me, in consequence of this motion. It cannot injure me; but if the matter stops here with a declaration of the opinion of the persons who admit that they are the objects of my censure—if it stops here with the condemnation of the very men who are the objects of the censure in which I indulged, what can it do but make the Parliament of the country a laughing-stock? It is the crown of the folly of this House. From the time it first met until now, it has proceeded by one gigantic step after another in a course of folly, and this is the very crown of its folly. I snap my fingers at the motion, and I appeal from you to your masters, the electors of the country.




  ― 148 ―

Hereupon Mr. Copeland, the same Mr. Henry Copleand who travelled all the way to Argyle to oppose my election, leaped into the gulf. He ‘quite agreed with my remarks,’ and notwithstanding the expressions of opinion of the Government ‘it was their clear duty to move the expulsion of the honourable member.’ Mr. Copeland quoted numerous authorities in support of the course he proposed to take. In conclusion he said: ‘If honourable members sit quietly by and say that because he (Sir Henry Parkes) is a prominent man, they will allow him with impunity to spit upon them, that was not his temperament. If that honourable member were twenty times as big as he was, he should under like circumstances take the same course.’ He moved:—

That in consequence of this House having voted that the statements made by the honourable member for Argyle, Sir Henry Parkes, in his address of November 3 last, announcing his retirement from the representation of Tenterfield, and published in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of November 4 last, are a gross libel upon this House, and in further consequence of the honourable member not apologising or offering to retract such statement, he be expelled from the membership of this House.

Not Sir Alexander Stuart, who made the first motion in such heroic form, but Mr. Dibbs, announced that the Government was satisfied with their majority of four, and had no intention of proceeding further, and that Ministers would vote against Mr. Copeland's resolution. After all his bluster and his trouble in searching for precedents and the waste of hours of the public time,


  ― 149 ―
Mr. Copeland quietly proposed to withdraw his resolution. This, however, was objected to by one of his own supporters.

When the votes were taken, the Ministers did not vote against the motion, only three of them taking their seats in the division, Sir Alexander Stuart and the rest of his colleagues being bravely absent.

I extract the division from the records of Parliament:—

AYES 2.

                                 
Tellers
Coonan, W. T.  Copeland, H. 
NOES 25. 
Abbott, J. P.  Proctor, W. C. 
Abigail, F.  Smith, R. B. 
Burdekin, S.  Smith, S. 
Burns, J. F.  Smith, T. R. 
Cameron, A.  Spring, G. 
Dangar, T. G. G.  Taylor, H. 
Dibbs, G. R.  Teece, W. 
Farnell, J. S.  Wisdom, R. 
Fletcher, J.  Young, J. H. 
Garrett, T. 
Gould, A. J. 
Heydon, L. F.  Tellers
Mackinnon, J. A.  De Salis, G. F. 
McQuade, H. M. H.  Hammond, M. J. 

Question so resolved in the negative.

House adjourned at midnight.

From the circumstances connected with the railway votes of 1884 which led to these proceedings, I had


  ― 150 ―
made up my mind, if ever the opportunity came to me, to do my utmost to change the system of originating railway expenditure, and the principles of the Public Works Act of 1887 were already thought out and determined.




  ― 151 ―

6. CHAPTER VI

THE GENERAL ELECTION—I DEFEAT THE PRIME MINISTER AT ST. LEONARD'S—THE DIBBS MINISTRY DEFEATED IN THE NEW PARLIAMENT—SIR JOHN ROBERTSON FORMS A MINISTRY—HIS DEFEAT—SIR PATRICK JENNINGS SENT FOR—POLITICAL DESERTIONS—THE ‘THIN END OF THE WEDGE’ OF PROTECTION—VIOLENT PROCEEDINGS IN THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY—BREAK-UP OF THE JENNINGS MINISTRY—THE MOUNT RENNIE CRIMINALS.

THE eleventh Parliament, with which we were chiefly concerned in the last chapter, lasted a little short of two years and nine months. And into this short space of time the Stuart Government managed to crowd six separate and distinct Sessions,—a feat, so far as my knowledge extends, never performed before in any part of the world. One of these Sessions, as already explained, occupied a whole year and twenty-two days. This first wrench to the Constitution was mainly the wide source of the succeeding irregularities. In eighteen days after the prorogation, on November 19, 1884, Parliament was called together again for the sole purpose of granting Supply; and members were appealed to in both Houses, on the ground of their late protracted and heavy labours, to pass the Estimates in globo without discussion, the Government pledging itself, by the mouth of Mr. Dibbs, the Treasurer, to convene Parliament for the Session proper to 1885 not later than the


  ― 152 ―
early part of May. The Legislative Assembly pliantly responded to the appeal of Ministers, but the pledge of the Ministers was not kept to Parliament. The Session for the regular business of 1885 was not opened until September 8—four months later than the ‘early part of May.’ That I may not do an injustice to Mr Dibbs, I quote his words from the official report of the Debates. In the Assembly, on November 19, 1884, he said:—

The Government is fulfilling the pledges of its existence as rapidly as possible. We trust to meet Parliament in the earlier part of May next, and in that Session to succeed in passing, and we shall certainly do our best in that direction, a Local Government Bill, and honourable members will then, as with the Civil Service Act, be relieved of much of their labour of a detail character, and be enabled to give their time to matters more specially within the functions of a legislature.

Between this date and September 8, 1885, there was a short Session, from March 17 to March 26, to enable Parliament to condone the illegal conduct of the Government in sending a contingent of the military forces to the Soudan. When Parliament did at last meet on September 8, to transact the business of the year, the opening speech promised a Local Government Bill and other important measures; but it was soon made evident that no business would be done. Ministers had presumed too far on their lease of power; the commonsense of the people had re-asserted itself, and there was a sense of outraged public feeling abroad. In less than a month, on October 2, a proclamation was issued, countersigned by Sir Alexander Stuart, proroguing Parliament.


  ― 153 ―
Another wrench to the Constitution of a different character was now on the eve of coming to light. Sir Alexander Stuart, as chief adviser of the Crown, prorogued Parliament, but on the fifth day afterwards, another man, as chief adviser, dissolved Parliament. In secret conclave the political cards had been reshuffled; Stuart, Dalley, and others had dropped out, and Want, Slattery, See and others had crept in, with George Richard Dibbs at the top, Prime Minister made nobody knew how, though everybody knew it was without the knowledge of Parliament. In the late Assembly Mr. Dibbs represented the district of St. Leonard's. When he offered himself for re-election as Prime Minister, I was induced to present myself as his opponent on the hustings, and I defeated him by a majority of 500 votes. Mr. Dibbs was afterwards elected for The Murrumbidgee, but his Ministry survived only seventy-five days.

Some months before these events, Sir Alexander Stuart had unhappily been stricken by paralysis, and he was in New Zealand seeking restoration to health when the decision was arrived at to send the contingent to the Soudan. He had, however, recovered sufficiently to occupy his place in Parliament during the last Session.

The next Ministry was formed by Sir John Robertson. On receiving his commission, Sir John did me the honour to wait upon me, and he very handsomely left to me my choice of office. I told him at once that for several reasons, some of which I explained, I could not join him. He then said, with the utmost cordiality,


  ― 154 ―
that he was willing to go back to the Governor and advise him to send for me, and he would take office with me. I replied that during my absence from the colony, he had been leader of the Opposition, that the Governor's commission had come properly to him, and that I could not hear of any such arrangement. He finally said that, if I would not join him, he would return his commission. This I begged of him not to think of doing, but to go on, and form his Ministry. I had some time before determined that, if any such crisis occurred, not to take office, and I had come to this determination for reasons which appeared to me then, and appear to me now, perfectly sound and justifiable.

Some ill-natured things have been said of me in consequence of my refusal to join Sir John Robertson at this juncture, and for that reason I shall quote a passage from a letter addressed by me to the late Mr. Thomas Garrett, which he read to the Assembly on December 22, 1885. A rumour had been circulated, that I refused to join the new Ministry because I objected to Mr. Garrett, and that gentleman asked me to inform him whether such was the fact, and he read the following from my letter in reply:—

In reply to your note of this date, I can say without the slightest reserve that I was not influenced by any feeling towards you in declining to accept office with Sir John Robertson. I made no enquiries of Sir John as to whom he intended to offer seats in his Ministry, as my mind was made up when he called upon me, and you will recollect that I told you during the Want of Confidence debate that I would not take office.


  ― 155 ―
I may add that, if Sir John were to form a ministry from the principal men with whom I have recently acted, including yourself, I should give to such ministry an unhesitating support.

I must also quote what Sir John Robertson said himself in his explanation to Parliament in reference to his interview with me. Sir John is thus reported:—

I desire to say that on receiving the commission from the Governor to which I have alluded, without a moment's delay, on leaving His Excellency I waited upon my honourable and distinguished friend, Sir Henry Parkes, in the hope that he would take some part in a new administration. Of course, from his great ability, his great experience, and his high position in the country, no restriction whatever was by me thought of or suggested to the honourable member. However, in a short conversation, the honourable member made it apparent that at that time he was disinclined to take office, and, in answer to certain observations of mine, he expressed his hope that I would not, in consequence of his determination, abandon the idea of forming a Government. At the same time he conveyed to me his appreciation of the great difficulties I had in my way, and his hope for my success.

Sir John Robertson's Ministry was a surprise to all parties, and it included men who were known to be inveterate Protectionists. It was said that he yielded to advice to form a Ministry of any complexion rather than fail in forming one. What he did, naturally brought about a state of things, in which the new Government had to confront not only the legitimate Opposition, but a large dissentient section of the side on which alone it could depend for support. The policy of the Government, as put before the electors, and as put before Parliament, was, to use the mildest


  ― 156 ―
terms, unhappily explained; and, after much debate, a resolution was submitted in the Assembly: ‘That the policy of the Government is unsatisfactory to this House.’ I took no part in the debate on this motion, but beyond all question it expressed an indisputable truth, and I, with some reluctance, voted for it, with eight other members who, before and since, have held office with me.

On the defeat of the short-lived Robertson ministry, Lord Carrington sent for Sir Patrick Jennings, who apparently aimed at drawing what he mistook for strength from both sides of the House. The ministry which he succeeded in constructing included gentlemen who had served with me, and gentlemen from the Stuart-Dibbs party, to whom they had been bitterly opposed. If this expedient in cabinet-making did not give the strength expected, it certainly had the effect of weakening the public character of the persons most conspicuously concerned. Sir Patrick Jennings, who is an amiable, well-meaning, honourable man, soon found that he had created for himself a situation of insupportable misery. He placed Mr. Dibbs in the great office of Colonial Secretary, taking himself the Treasury, and forming, in imitation of an absurd step in some of the other colonies, what he called ‘the Premier's office.’ Mr. Dibbs contrived to quarrel with him in official intercourse, set him at defiance, flouted him in public, and converted his bed of roses into a garden of thistles.

In the last Stuart days, and throughout the troubled life of the Jennings Ministry, repeated confessions had


  ― 157 ―
to be made of a failing Treasury, each time with a larger sum on the wrong side of the account, until at length it was admitted that the deficit far exceeded two millions sterling. In addressing his constituents, Sir Patrick Jennings had informed them, that additional revenue must be obtained, but that, whatever form the new taxation might take, the Ministry would not be guilty of ‘sneaking in Protection.’ This phrase was remembered with scornful gibes and mocking denunciations when he himself introduced a Bill to largely increase the Customs revenue by the imposition of specific and ad valorem duties. It was vehemently contended that this was a reversal of the settled policy of the country, and was being done behind the backs of the people, who had been assured by the Prime Minister that he would be no party to ‘sneaking in’ Protection. Resistance was carried to extreme lengths. The Government determined to force their measure through at all hours of the night and by any available means. They supplied their supporters with pillows and blankets, and put them to bed in the ante-rooms, to be awakened when the division bell rang. This unreasoning attitude of the Government naturally provoked a corresponding spirit of violence in the Opposition, and language was used, and means were adopted, which were utterly unjustifiable. All night sittings extended into day and night sittings, but with no advantage to the Opposition. The Bill passed, and became law.

I spoke on the second reading of the Bill, and I give the concluding portion of my speech. It will be


  ― 158 ―
seen that, yielding to the tempestuous excitement of the hour, I declared with others that the Bill should never become law. But all that we could do failed in the end to arrest its progress:—

In the year 1852 the late Sir Edward Deas-Thomson carried through the old Legislative Council a Bill to impose Customs duties, and that Bill followed as nearly as possible in the light of great English precedents. It reduced the number of articles on which revenue was collected to about the same number as that in the English tariff, or only one or two more. And it is very remarkable that it reduced the duties on tea and sugar to one-half the present duties on those articles. The Deas-Thomson tariff left the duty on refined sugar at 3s. 6d., unrefined sugar, 2s. 6d.; molasses, 1s. 6d.; on tea, 1½d. The duties were doubled before the Constitution came into force—I think at the time when Mr. Merewether was Acting Treasurer, during Mr. Riddell's absence in England on leave. The Government, however, wanted revenue, and the tea and sugar duties were doubled; but as Sir Edward Deas-Thomson left them, they stood at the low rates I have quoted. The tariff, as I have said, almost copied what had been achieved in England. In the year 1865 a great alteration was made. In the year 1873 another great alteration was made, and now it is proposed to make another great alteration. Now, I will show to the House and the country, that under freedom, here as elsewhere, the country progressed, and that during the pressure of the duties which were imposed in 1865, and until they were removed, the country was stationary. If I prove that, I think I make out an unanswerable case for maintaining a free policy in this country. I shall give the figures first, and then I shall show by an analysis of the figures how the country went on under the two different systems. From 1852—we will say 1853, because the Bill was passed late in the year—from 1853 to 1865 the country appears to have made very decided progress. In the last year the value of the imports into this country stood at 10,635,507l., the value of the exports at 9,563,811l., the revenue at


  ― 159 ―
1,938,656l., while the population was 411,388. In this year, 1865, which is represented by the figures I have just read, revenue was wanted, and without much regard either to principle or to symmetry, let alone scientific lines of construction, duties were imposed on the country. They were all customs duties. There were specific duties, a 5 per cent. ad valorem duty, and there was a package duty. They lasted for eight years, and remember that in 1865, when they were imposed, the imports were of the value of 10,635,507l. In 1873, when they were abolished, after eight years, the imports stood at 10,471,483l. Instead of progressing they actually diminished during the eight years. That is our experience under a system such as that which we are now asked, in the madness of its authors, appealing to some madness in ourselves, to pass. We have had it before, when the country under its pressure made no headway. The same amount of imports when it commenced measured the amount of imports when it ceased, and the exports declined also. Do not think that the volume of trade mounted up in the interim. It sunk as low as 6,000,000l. It never was as high as 10,000,000l., when these duties were levied. These are our own figures, from our own records. We imposed these destructive duties; and the effect was to arrest the progress of our trade for eight years so that at the end of that time you stood at the same figure as you did when you commenced. Nay, you had receded. Very well, the package duty expired by effluxion of time the year before the time alluded to. In 1873 the other duties were all abolished, except what remain on the tariff to-day. Let us see what the country has done since. I have shown from our own records—which admit of no alteration, admit of no misinterpretation, admit of no other explanation—that throughout the eight years of this taxation the country stood still in the volume of its trade; and I will tell you what it did when the taxes were taken off. I have just stated that in 1873 the imports were 10,471,483l. The exports were 9,387,873l. In 1884, after the expiration of eleven years, the imports amounted to 22,826,985l., and the exports have doubled; they stood at


  ― 160 ―
18,251,506l. So here you have our own experience. You tried freedom under the guiding hand of Mr. Deas-Thomson, and you made a great advance. You tried restriction for eight years, and you stood still; nay, you went back. And the records are open to all the world. You cannot deny them. You tried freedom for eleven years, and your trade doubled. Let us see how the revenue fared. In 1865, when the duties were imposed, the revenue was 1,938,656l. In 1873—and this makes our trade stagnation the more remarkable, because the revenue did progress by reason of the fruits of these duties and the disposal of land—the revenue stood at 3,937,975l. In 1884 the revenue was 7,000,000l., notwithstanding the cessation of the land revenue. The population in the first year to which I have alluded, namely 1865, was 411,388 souls; in 1873 it was 560,275; and in 1884 it had increased to 921,268. A large number of these souls, as was shown by the honourable member for East Sydney last night, came from the Protectionist country of Victoria. This will be seen perhaps more strikingly if I give the percentages of the increase. In twelve years of Mr. Deas-Thomson's tariff the imports increased 67½ per cent., the exports 111½ per cent., the revenue 135 per cent., and the population 80 per cent. In the eight years of the Customs duties—ad valorem and specific duties exactly like these—the imports were stationary, and the exports remained stationary too. The revenue increased 113 per cent., and the population 35 per cent. In eleven years of freedom, from 1873 to 1884, the imports increased 120 per cent., the exports 100 per cent., the revenue 193 per cent., and the population 70 per cent. Answer these figures. Try to answer these figures, and human reason must fail, because human reason cannot accomplish impossibilities. And until you have answered these figures you have no title to ask us to roll back the tide of freedom and bring in an era of darkness and slavery. At least you must have a mandate from the electors of the country before this great national suicide is committed. You have no moral right, you have no right, against reason and understanding, again to commit this flagrant wrong, and to


  ― 161 ―
roll back the tide of our prosperity, unless the electors of the country are blind enough, mad enough, to give you this suicidal mandate. What does the honourable member want? Has he not got a fair prospect of increasing the stamp duties? Has he not a fair prospect of getting a land tax? Has he not a prospect of getting an income tax? He can milk the country by the teat of a stamp tax, he can milk the country by the teat of a land tax, he can milk the country by the teat of an income tax. Will he go on milking till he milks the country dry? I would appeal to him in the language of the Irish poet:

If thou art strong, be merciful,
Great woman of three cows.

Do not tax us to death. Have some mercy upon us. Do not take more than you want. The taxes you are imposing will simply oppress the people; but this tax will not only oppress the people, it will disorganise all our commercial arrangements; it will destroy our reputation in civilised countries; it will take away our fair prestige which we have so honestly won. It will not make you famous, but the reverse. It will do no good to anyone, and it will inflict an enormous evil upon the struggling classes at the present time in this country. Why, it would be better for us to have a volcano in eruption than to have a tax like this; it would be a less misfortune. Twelve hundred miles of stormy sea between us and New Zealand does not afford us safety from the disasters which have caused such dismay to our fellow-subjects in that country. Our Mount Tarawera is on the Treasury Benches, belching forth its poisonous fumes, and tainting the pure air which hitherto has fed us with such lusty life, sending its black clouds far and wide over the land, covering the fair face of our commerce and industry with the pestiferous ashes of a worn-out fiscal creed, and threatening to bury us beneath the deathly-coloured ‘blue mud’ of old world laws of restriction and repression. It would be better for us to suffer from these destructive natural catastrophes than to have a thing of this kind invented in our midst—invented behind the backs of the electors, and by men who dare not take this Bill before the


  ― 162 ―
face of the country. There is not a man amongst them who dare stand up and defend this treason against the country. There is not a man amongst them who dare appear before his constituents and say, that he is inflicting upon the country this enormous wrong. I feel quite assured of this, because I believe in the principle of a great cause at all times, that this Bill will never become law. It never shall become law so long as others will stand by me to resist it.

Mr. DIBBS: Stonewalling!

Sir HENRY PARKES: Stonewalling! Why, there is nothing that human ingenuity can contrive that is not justifiable against a treason like this. Put the issue fairly; go to the electors, and if the electors will support you, we will accept your nauseous measures till a more enlightened time arrives. But you dare not go; not one of you dare go to the electors with this Bill in your hands; and I am thankful to think that even here we are still Britons, and, knowing that we have a just cause, we will stand together, and will resist this iniquity, this gigantic treason, until our resistance shall justify us before the enlightened portion of the country, and shall redeem our dear land from this heavy affliction.

Sir Patrick Jennings at the same time introduced a Bill to impose a land tax, which received my support at nearly all its stages through the Assembly; but it was ultimately lost.

While these struggles were going on in Parliament I delivered a speech at a public meeting in one of the Metropolitan suburbs, on August 16, 1886, which fairly expressed my view of the mischief which had been done, and was still being done, since the accession to office of the Stuart Ministry in 1883:—

He was not going to indulge in any declamatory speech, but it was his intention to put before them, in plain and simple words, what, from his point of view, was the true position of public affairs in this country. He should try to show them


  ― 163 ―
the condition this country was really in, compared with what its condition was a few years ago. It was very possible that many persons would suspect him of seeking to carry out his own views; if so, their suspicions were well founded. The man who had any well-founded and earnest opinions on public questions must be anything but a straightforward man if he did not desire to give effect to them. Now let them look fairly and dispassionately at the present state of things. The Parliament of this country had been in session nine months. The work of Parliament in this country ought to be performed in less than six months. It was so performed in the other colonies. The Imperial Parliament, as a rule, transacted the business of the Empire in less than six months. It was essential, absolutely necessary, that a Government should have time to attend to the real business of the country—the administration of the Civil Service departments and the due execution of the laws; and the work in Parliament ought to be the lesser part of Ministers’ work. We had been in session nine months, and we might really say we had done nothing. He would glance at what he thought were the causes of nothing having been done. His review of the affairs of the country would stretch over the time dating from the period when he and his colleagues retired from office three years and eight months ago. Of course he was not going to pass in review what he and the gentlemen associated with him did during the time of the Ministry which retired at the beginning of 1883. Others might do that in the same way as he was doing now. He would simply deal with the period which had elapsed since his retirement from office. During that time there had been to his mind singular irregularities in the conduct of business. For example, during that period, there had been seven Sessions of Parliament, or nearly double the number we ought to have had. In our country the financial year extended from January 1 to December 31; we ought to have one Session in each period of twelve months, and during that Session we ought not only to pass the necessary laws but to pass sound and good laws. It was not particularly desirable that private members should introduce measures; the Government


  ― 164 ―
should introduce and pass into law all the measures to meet the present needs of the country. And if the Government of the day had not the power to pass those measures, their inability to do so supplied the proof that they were not entitled to hold office. One safeguard of our constitutional form of Government was that the Crown, whether represented by the Sovereign or by the recognised representative of the Crown as in this colony, should not have a penny of money beyond the needs of one year; hence the necessity for Parliament to meet once in every year, and hence the necessity that it should carefully consider the estimates of expenditure before sanctioning their appropriation by law. The law making provision for the public service of 1887, for example, ought to be passed before the expiration of the year 1886, in order that the Government might be constitutionally and satisfactorily carried on. In other words, to make his meaning perfectly clear, the estimates of expenditure for the year of 1887 ought to be considered by the Legislative Assembly and legally appropriated before December 31 this year. So far from this being the case at the present time, though they were more than half through the year, we had never yet considered the estimates—not simply the estimates for the coming year, but not the estimates for the current year. That would give some idea of the state of public business. It was supposed that their representatives would carefully examine and honestly criticise all proposals of expenditure, but as the moneys for eight months of the year had already been voted away in monthly Supply Bills, they would see that it was a farce to talk of considering the estimates now the money was gone. Some years ago the late Mr. Fitzpatrick proposed a resolution and carried it against the Government then in power, that Parliament ought to meet for the despatch of business not later than the month of May. The resolution stood on the books of the House, but it had been disregarded. The object of this resolution was that the business might be wound up before the close of the year, and that there might be a clean sheet for the next year. If they remembered that the estimates of expenditure amounted to 9,000,000l. of money, they would see


  ― 165 ―
how necessary it was that their representatives should consider them. Yet for nineteen months there had been no deliberate consideration of the estimates of our public expenditure. In his judgment the present Government fairly represented the Government formed three years and eight months ago by the late Sir Alexander Stuart, and for all political purposes he must consider the party, as it stood before the country, one and the same. Three of the present Ministers, Sir Patrick Jennings, Mr. Dibbs, and Mr. Copeland, were members of the Ministry which took office early in January, 1883. Mr. Lyne and Mr. Garvan were strong supporters of the first Ministry, though the latter gentleman fell away in his support afterwards. It was true that Mr. Suttor, Dr. Renwick, and Mr. Fletcher had joined them, but these were weak men and had suffered themselves to be absorbed in the old element; the Jennings-Dibbs members were the dominant force. Dr. Renwick had told them that he intended to keep Mr. Dibbs in order, so that he should do no harm; but it seemed to him that the relations between these two Ministers were those of an overgrown boy with a poor little bird safely shut in a cage. He would like to show what they had got from the long reign of gentlemen who had in one shape or other held the reins of Government in their hands since the beginning of 1883. In 1882 the estimated expenditure was 5,961,368l. This year—and let them remember this was a year when everyone admitted that the utmost exertion should be exercised to reduce expenditure—when they were threatened by new taxes on every hand, when every interest had been suffering a long and painful depression, when there was not a single branch of trade or industry which could be said to be in a soundly flourishing state; this year, when all these things existed, and all these obligations to economise were thrown upon the Government, the estimated expenditure was 8,571,855l., or an increase since 1882 of 2,610,485l., or more than 2l. 10s. per head for every man, woman, and child in the country. If they would bear these facts in mind they would see what a downhill process of expenditure they had commenced, to increase in less than four years their expenditure to this extent.


  ― 166 ―
Now, he was going to show by-and-by the increase in population, expenditure, and debt in that time. But it would be interesting if he were to give them figures showing how our public debt had increased. In the year 1880 we had enjoyed Responsible Government since the year 1856, just twenty-four years, and in that year (1880) the public debt stood at 14,903,919l. In 1881 it had risen to 16,924,019l. In 1882 it had risen to 18,721,219l. It would seem that in those three years the debt rose gradually and not by very excessive strides. And he would now require his hearers to fix, as a starting point, upon the year 1882, when the debt, after twenty-six years of Responsible Government, stood at 18,721,219l. The change of Government took place at the beginning of the next year. In the year 1884, the second year of the new men, the debt had increased from 18,721,219l. to 30,101,039l., or in those two years it had increased by the enormous sum of 11,380,720l., or it had increased by more than 60 per cent. on the total debt of all the years of Responsible Government up to 1882. Now, at this present time, the public debt of this country was 41,064,259l., or it had increased upon the debt of 1882 by the tremendous sum of 22,343,040l. The interest on the debt—and he wanted them to pay particular attention to this because it meant that they had to find it every year of their lives—in 1882 was 640,518l. In 1886 it was 1,646,681l. 1s. 8d., or, in other words, after four years there was added to the annual expenditure of this country the sum of one million sterling for interest on borrowed money. Now they understood why taxes were wanted. This interest, supposing it did not increase for some time, was 1l. 13s. per head for every man, woman, and child in the country. No wonder—with this large increase in the public debt—no wonder that the revenue had failed to meet our engagements. No wonder that the legislature was called upon to impose new taxation, no wonder that many things which should be done for the real benefit of the country could not be done; but still extravagant expenditure went on for unproductive works, and those not necessary for the general happiness of the people. It was, then, no wonder that we found


  ― 167 ―
ourselves in a difficulty. Before he said anything further on the present state of things, he must say a few words about the late Treasurer, Mr. Dibbs. he charged that gentleman with an almost unpardonable political offence, in concealing for so many months the great difference between revenue and expenditure. So far back as April last year he (Sir Henry) offered himself as a candidate for Argyle. He went there—not merely to obtain a seat in Parliament, but because things had been done which, in his view, were unjustifiable and which called loudly for a public protest. At that time, now considerably over twelve months ago, he stated distinctly that whenever the exposition of the financial affairs of the country was made there would be a deficit of over a million sterling. It was denied at the time and laughed at, and he was called by every kind of uncomplimentary name. In the general election, for reasons which he considered justified him, he threw himself into a contest with Mr. Dibbs himself, then Premier of the country, and he was glad to say that he beat him by a very large majority. But in that contest he again repeatedly stated there was a deficit of a million sterling. That statement was again laughed at. But a very short time afterwards Mr. Dibbs had to acknowledge that the deficit was nearly 1,100,000l., and it turned out that he had not given the full amount. The Governor, or the gentleman acting in his place, who opened Parliament was made to say that Parliament would not be asked for new taxation, notwithstanding that Mr. Dibbs must have known that there was a deficit of considerably over a million of money. No wonder that men with the slightest conception of the true principles of Parliamentary government were annoyed beyond measure that, after these great political crimes, this gentleman should be placed in his present important position, As to the legislation of these disastrous years, they had got the Land Act, which one of the greatest Australian lawyers said was as incongruous and unworkable a measure as he had ever seen, and which satisfied nobody in its provisions for the management of the public estate. Where was the revenue they expected to get from this Act? In some districts the administration of the Act more than


  ― 168 ―
swallowed up the revenues received under it. No one seemed satisfied with it, and the pastoral tenants were loudest in their complaints against it. They had also a most crude and unworkable and unjust measure in the Civil Service Act. If they had to make laws for the regulation of this service, they should have been made in the interests of the people for whom the service is created. The service should be regulated in the interests of the country, and not exclusively in the interests of the Civil Servants themselves. Besides this, they had had offices multiplied in the most reckless manner and salaries increased without much regard to the merits of the recipients, and they had had pensions lavishly increased. Now they had a perfect cloud of measures for imposing taxes upon the people. Hitherto the proud boast of New South Wales had been that they were the. lightest taxed of all the colonies. Now they would have to hang down their heads and confess that they were the heaviest taxed of all the colonies. Hitherto it had been their proud boast that, while they were making more rapid progress than the other colonies, their public debt was the smallest. Now, unhappily, their debt was the largest, and these things had been brought about in a period of less than four years. Let them contrast their increased expenditure and indebtedness with the increase of population. In 1882 the population of this country was 817,468 souls, now it was a little over a million, or an increase of not 25 per cent. Their expenditure had increased 50 per cent., and their indebtedness had increased 120 per cent. He asked them to pause and think where this course of things must lead them. Population constituted the strength of a free State. Gum trees and cedar brush, treeless plains and fertile valleys, were of little value in themselves. It was men and women, spread over the country in happy conditions, which gave to it life, prosperity, and power. Was it any wonder that there was stagnation, want of trade, want of employment, want of profitable investment—that things were not going right—when, with an increased population of not 25 per cent., they had increased their expenditure by 50 per cent., and, above all, when their


  ― 169 ―
debt had increased 120 per cent? That was the condition of things to which they had been brought by the new rulers of this country. He would try to honestly explain the new burdens which the Government were endeavouring to place upon the people of the country. They had increased the stamp duties. These duties were often harassing, but all taxes were more or less objectionable, and he for one had given his assent to the measure in order that the Government might have money to preserve the public credit. Then there was the Customs Duties Bill which they had fought so desperately. It was a very peculiar measure. It really in itself offered no particular inducement to the votaries of Protection. There was no duty imposed by this Bill which, as it stood, would have any appreciable effect in protecting articles made in this country. For example, the 5 per cent. ad valorem duty would have no very appreciable effect in protecting cabinet-making. He supposed the advocates of Protection espoused the Bill because it really introduced the principle of Protection, or to use a homely phrase, it introduced the thin edge of the wedge. And, of course, if once introduced and incorporated in the laws of the country, it would be easier to put some new force on the screw or to drive the wedge further. The gentlemen who honestly believed in Protection hailed this measure on account of its introducing the principle of Protection. But what were we to say to the specific duties which this Bill imposed? These duties actually raised the present duty in some instances 100 per cent. and in other instances 50 per cent., without having any effect upon native industries, because many of the articles thus heavily taxed would never be manufactured in this country. The taxes directly pressed upon the poorer portion of the community, and upon those persons who could least afford to bear the pressure of taxation, without doing good to anybody. And, in some instances, the duty imposed was of such a character, that persons well acquainted with trade said that it would prohibit the commodity altogether; and, therefore, there would be no revenue derived from it. In other words, the measure was a crude and an ill-considered one, and had been produced without any knowledge


  ― 170 ―
of the fiscal principles which would inevitably operate in its working. The measure did not in its present form afford protection, and it unnecessarily meddled with men's affairs. Free trade did not alone mean the absence of an active policy of Protection, but it meant the absence of all unnecessary and vexatious impediments and interferences. Importers should not be interfered with, any more than persons following some industry in the fields or the mines of the country, unless such interferences were absolutely necessary for the needs of the State. But in this Bill, so far from it being necessary for the needs of the State, in some cases the tax acted so badly as to exclude the article taxed from the market. Then there was the Land Tax Bill before Parliament at the present time. And if any of his hearers had noticed the proceedings in Parliament on Thursday, as reported in the papers, they would have seen that, though the House was in a good temper and ready to assist the Government, still they spent nearly all the evening over one clause, it being found so difficult to see how that clause would operate without injustice to encumbered properties. It was a clause which in no way distinctly defined how the tax should be imposed in regard to mortgaged land. So that, without there being any desire to oppress, it would act oppressively upon men in straitened circumstances. Then there was the Income Tax Bill. To show how that would operate he might say that he knew persons whose business amounted to 3,000l. to 4,000l. a day, and he had been assured by more than one of these gentlemen that during the last twelve months they had not made a single penny owing to the bad times; they were simply living upon the fruits of former operations. How unpleasant and distressing it would be to these persons to have to explain to the tax-collector the real condition of their affairs. The inquisitorial reach of this tax would be the worst part of it—far more harassing than the mere burden of the tax. These were the measures now engaging the attention of Parliament; and no wonder if men at times lost their balance in contending against measures of such a kind, and in trying to protect the country against heavy burdens, unjust interference, and, in some cases,


  ― 171 ―
cruel oppression. No wonder resistance went to a length sometimes, which people sitting at home in their arm-chairs thought hardly justifiable. But he thought it was gratifying to know that there was a spirit of resistance in the Legislative Assembly capable of rising courageously to meet what was believed to be unjust. With regard to Protection, this country had for many years past been known all over the world as a Free-trade country, and he believed we were favourably known because we were Free-traders. We once lived for a period of eight years under a system of duties very much the same in character as those proposed to be levied by this Customs Duties Bill. We lived under that system for eight years, and during that period we made no progress in our commerce, while the very opposite was the case when the duties were taken off. The other day a wise alderman at the Glebe stated that, if we only had Protection, instead of sending the money out of the country to buy railway plant we should have the railway plant made in the country and have the money also. A man so wise as that was above the reach of argument. It never occurred to that alderman to give himself the trouble to examine into the inevitable laws of exchange and international trade, which were as exacting and true as the laws of nature. You could not import anything by sending your money out of the country as a rule; though that might be done in a trifling, isolated case. You could not import without exporting; and your imports were the measure of the real value of your exports. As an illustration, he would suppose a man to invest 10,000l. in horses for the Indian market. He chartered a ship and took his horses to Bombay, where he sold them at prices which gave him 5,000l. profit, clear of all expenses. He would not bring back his ship in ballast and his 15,000l. in Indian coin; but he would purchase rice or sugar, or other produce of Indian labour, and, if he purchased well, his clear profit on his new venture might be, say, 2,000l. So that the complete transaction between Australia and India would be represented by exports 10,000l., imports 17,000l. Would anyone say that the balance of trade was against Australia? Was it not clear that Australia would


  ― 172 ―
gain 7,000l. of additional wealth by the transaction? So it was in the purchase of British manufactures. If, to pay for them, the merchant bought a draft on London for 50,000l., the Bank would not send sovereigns away to meet it, but it would be met by the proceeds of Australian produce. No country could for any continuance import more than it exported. If they cast their eyes abroad, they could see that Protection was identified with despotism. The despotic countries of the world were all highly protective. Certainly the Melvilles and Luscombes would be protected if they got into a country like Russia or Germany—they would be protected off the face of the earth. There was only one free country that had advocated a protective policy—the United States of America. And some of the wisest and most enlightened as well as cultivated of American citizens were as strong Free-traders as Mr. Gladstone or Mr. Bright. They must not for a moment suppose that because there was a high protective tariff in that country, that there were none who objected to it. If these men had not succeeded in changing the tariff, they had ameliorated it. There were signs that gradually they would change it. But if they went to England which had adopted Free-trade, and to her eternal honour had adhered to that policy, they would see that she was carrying on nearly all the trade of the world. Her ships swept the sea in greater number than nearly all the other maritime nations put together. Her flag was flying everywhere. Where they saw the flag of Germany, of France, or of the United States, they saw twenty vessels bearing the grand old flag of Great Britain. She was still empress of the seas, and carried the commerce of the world. Not merely was she in advance of other nations in this respect, but of all others put together, and her exports had swelled to an extent never dreamt of in these times of Protection. But freedom was freedom. They could not be free and bound by artificial laws. Freedom meant that every man should stand erect and take his own part in the industrial and commercial world without any person telling him where to go, and without any occasion to ask the leave of any person, and without any law


  ― 173 ―
that implied that his own intelligent enterprise was a breach of his individual freedom. But men could not be free under protective laws. Freedom was freedom, and there was no modification of it. And it was abundantly proved that in the time of despotism, when men had no voice in the management of their country and barbarous laws took away life for trifling crimes, when education lay dormant and the children grew up in ignorance—that when this state of things existed, then was the time for the triumph of Protection. The mother-country had emerged from this dark condition of humanity, and had burst her fetters and freed herself from all the burdens which still oppressed less favoured nations; and to the honour of the English nation she bravely upheld her radiant standard of freedom. People talked about Protection benefiting the working-man. Those who talked this palaver about the working-man were generally those who never did a day's work themselves. But to talk about Protection benefiting the masses who had to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, how could it benefit them? How could it benefit the farmer to have 6d. a bushel put on imported wheat if taxes were imposed upon every article his wife and children wore or he used on his farm? How could it benefit the tin-miner or the coal-miner to have a tax on every article they consumed? How could it benefit the tradesman? How could this Protection be for the benefit of the working classes of the country? He said now, as he had always said, that the great body of the people of the country ought to share in the fruits of civilisation. Civilisation must be imperfect if it did not raise the condition of the large masses of the people and make their toil lighter, their chances of instruction and elevation better and more certain, but it could never do this under Protection. Our safety was in the bright light of general freedom. He trusted, if the conflict should come between Protection and Free-trade, that there was sufficient stamina in the people of this country, sufficient British intelligence, sufficient power of examination, to enable them to maintain their freedom by preserving the freedom of all their fellows. In this effort there was a spirit required, which he hoped, when the time came, would not be


  ― 174 ―
wanting—a spirit of fervid attachment to what was high and noble. They ought not to be ashamed to bow down in reverence to what was lofty and noble in the progress of mankind, and to honour those who had shown themselves to possess the attributes of strength and courage to resist assaults upon the cause of good government. How could any man do other than honour, and pay reverence to, those illustrious men who had illumined the public life of England—who had laboured so long, so faithfully, so nobly and so successfully, to raise the country to the proud position she occupied to-day! There was an attachment to principle, and an attachment to forms of glory as well as to the substantial securities of justice and freedom, which ought to animate all of them on trying occasions, let them tread in whatever walk they might. He did not know how better that could be illustrated than by an incident in that terrible civil war which raged between the Northern and Southern States of America. When Stonewall Jackson marched at the head of a Southern army into Frederickstown, the inhabitants pulled down the Stars and Stripes in all directions. There was one old lady, fourscore years and ten, Barbara Pritchie, who resolved to stick to the flag. Whittier had immortalised her in these lines:—

In her attic window the staff she set
To show that one heart was loyal yet.

But Stonewall Jackson saw the contumacious flag. He called upon his men to halt; a volley of musketry cut the staff and riddled the bunting. What followed?

Quick as it fell from the broken staff,
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.

She leaned far out on the window sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will!

‘Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag,’ she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came.



  ― 175 ―

The nobler nature within him stirr'd
To life, at that woman's deed and word.

‘Who touches a hair of yon gray head,
Dies like a dog; march on!’ he said.

That embodied the true spirit which ought to live in a true citizen in any contention for the public good. There ought to be the courage to do all that the occasion demanded—the loyalty to adhere to what he believed right, through good report and bad report, to the very last.

A member of the Upper Chamber, the Honourable W. R. Piddington, who had held office twice as Treasurer, moved for a Return of the ‘ordinary revenue and disbursements’ for the seven years 1879–1885 inclusive. This Return, dated from the Treasury, August 11, 1886, which tells its own tale, is copied hereunder:—

CONSOLIDATED REVENUE FUND, 1879 TO 1885.

(RETURN.)

Printed under No. 14 Report from Printing Committee.

Return to an order of the Honourable the Legislative Council, dated June 10, 1886, That there be laid on the table of this House,—

‘A return, showing in columns the ordinary revenue and disbursements on account of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the years 1879, 1880, 1881, and 1882, with a parallel column exhibiting the surplus or deficiency in each year, and a statement of the average expenditure per annum during the four years enumerated, and the name of the Ministry in office during the above period. Also a similar return on the same page, showing, in columns, the ordinary revenue and disbursements on account of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the years 1883, 1884, and 1885, with a


  ― 176 ―
parallel column exhibiting the surplus or deficiency in each year, and a statement of the average expenditure per annum during the three years enumerated, and the name of the Ministry in office during the above period.’

(Mr. Piddington.)

INSERT [TABLE]

J. PEARSON, Accountant.

The Treasury, New South Wales,

August 11, 1886.

This Session of the Parliament, which was brought into existence by Mr. Dibbs's dissolution, was opened on November 17, 1885, and it was closed on October 25, 1886; and it was virtually the only Session of that Parliament, for though it met again on January 18 following, it only met to be dissolved. After the prorogation in October, the internal broils of the Ministers grew insensible to the observance of public decency, and Sir Patrick Jennings, in desperation to escape from his galling fetters, tendered his resignation to the Governor. I have no knowledge which would justify me in supposing that


  ― 177 ―
Sir Patrick himself was a party to any design for another re-shuffle of the political cards as in the case when Sir Alexander Stuart retired to make way for Mr. Dibbs; but there can be but little doubt that the calculation among his colleagues was, that one of them would be commissioned to reconstruct the Ministry. The Governor, however, took a different view, and accepted the resignation as absolute. It is possible that His Excellency thought, after his year's experience, that the public interests would be best consulted by an entire change of men.

During the Ministry of Sir Patrick Jennings an event memorable in the criminal annals of the colony occurred in the execution of four young men, some of them scarcely more than lads, for the crime of rape. The occurrence naturally awakened a widespread painful feeling. I was appealed to by the Right Honourable William B. Dalley to make one with His Eminence Cardinal Moran, the Right Rev. the Bishop of Sydney (Dr. Barry), and himself, to wait upon the Governor and urge a mitigation of the sentences. We saw His Excellency, and severally stated such reasons as appeared justifiable in support of our plea for mercy; and I think we all concurred in the opinion that the execution, if carried out, would shock large sections of society as what would be regarded as the wholesale hanging of misguided youths, and that the authority of the law could derive no strength from a vindication open to such extreme interpretations. The Governor listened to us with the closest attention, but replied briefly that he must be guided by his responsible advisers.


  ― 178 ―
To my mind it has always appeared a very serious thing to attempt to influence the judgment of those, who are charged with the responsibility of carrying out the law in these extreme cases, and who must possess the fullest information and the best means of investigation in every case of the kind. But I cannot free myself from the conviction that a sad mistake was made in the case of the Mount Rennie culprits.




  ― 179 ―

7. CHAPTER VII

THE FOURTH PARKES MINISTRY—CONDUCT OF THE DIBBS PARTY—THE PLOTTERS CHECKMATED—APPEAL TO THE COUNTRY—VICTORY AT THE POLLS—OBSTRUCTION OF THE BEATEN MINORITY—THE JENNINGS CUSTOMS DUTIES BILL REPEALED

ON the collapse of the Jennings Ministry, His Excellency Lord Carrington, on January 15, 1887, sought my assistance in the formation of a new Administration. So little was the subject in my thoughts that I was at some distance in the country when His Excellency's messenger reached my house at Parramatta, and I did not return until late in the evening. I proceeded to Sydney and saw the Governor that night, when I received His Excellency's commission in very handsome terms.

Provision had not been made for the public service of the year 1887, and a temporary Supply Bill had to be brought in to cover the current month of January. Following the usual custom in any such emergency, I intimated through the Governor, that I should be obliged if Sir Patrick Jennings would obtain this necessary supply, the necessity for which arose from the negligence of the retiring Ministers. On the meeting of the Assembly, it soon became apparent that bad blood was in high flow. Though the outgoing Ministers


  ― 180 ―
had quarrelled among themselves, they came to an understanding against their successors. Indeed it was obvious that they had accomplished more than they had aimed at: the malcontents had only meant a new shuffle of the cards, but they had lost possession of the pack altogether. On the pretext of demanding the names of the new Ministers (which the House knew well enough would be formally announced, in regular course, on the motion being made to declare their seats vacant), instead of granting Supply, the adjournment of the House was moved and carried as a vote of censure. At an Executive Council next morning, the Ministers were sworn, on accepting their respective offices, except myself. I was sworn as Vice-President of the Executive Council without office, the office of Colonial Secretary being left vacant. A new piece had now to be put upon the stage. Having obtained the Governor's assent to an immediate dissolution, I went to the Legislative Assembly alone, my colleagues being all out by reason of their acceptance of office. I now asked for Supply, not to cover the period necessary for the re-election of Ministers, but for the re-election of a new Parliament; and looking at the surprised and angry faces before me, I dared them to refuse it on their peril! Of course there was a little whirlpool of passion, but the sudden prospect of meeting their constituents had a wonderfully cooling effect. The supply asked for was of course granted.

I felt satisfied that the electors throughout the country were with me, but I held now, as at all times, that the battle is never fought out till it is won. All


  ― 181 ―
that I could do I did everywhere, in every electorate, on every hustings. I issued the following address to my own constituents in St. Leonards, where I was returned without opposition:—

To the Electors of St. Leonards.

Gentlemen,—Having been commissioned by Her Majesty's Representative to form a new Administration, and having succeeded in that task, I have found it my duty to advise an immediate Dissolution of Parliament, to which the Crown has assented. In this turn of events, I appeal to you with every confidence to elect me again to the Legislative Assembly.

I have undertaken the labours of office at a time of unexampled difficulty. The financial position may be stated in a few sentences. When I retired from office, a little over four years ago, the Government of which I was a member left to their successors a surplus of nearly 2,000,000l. I return to office now to take over from our predecessors a deficit of at least 2,500,000l., created by improvident expenditure, in many cases amounting to reckless extravagance, and by the sudden stoppage of the revenue derived from the sales of land, without any provision being made to supply other revenue in its place. During the four years of our administration, ending with 1882, the average public expenditure was 5,881,861l. a year. During the four subsequent years of our successors, the average annual expenditure has not been less than 8,255,600l. When we retired at the close of 1882, the public debt was under 19,000,000l.; at the present time, the public debt is over 41,000,000l. These facts require no words from me to impress their significance upon the minds of all thoughtful men.

Clearly the first duty of His Excellency's advisers will be to address themselves to the urgent work of extricating the country from its present deplorable condition, and restoring it to a position worthy of its splendid resources and the generous spirit of its people. Amongst the measures to be adopted for this purpose will be an amendment of the Land Act of 1884, to


  ― 182 ―
facilitate permanent agricultural settlement on the soil under conditions suited to its varying capabilities, to confer upon the pastoral tenants such clearly defined rights of tenure as will afford security for the investment of capital in their important operations; and, in carrying out these main objects, to obtain for the mass of the people, who are not directly interested in the public lands, such adequate returns of revenue, not involving excessive rents or oppressive conditions, as will justly diminish the general burdens of taxation. In any legislation on this subject, I am strongly of opinion that the utmost care should be taken to guard the national estate from being squandered or improvidently treated for the mere purpose of obtaining revenue.

Another measure to assist in adjusting the present financial derangements will be a legislative enactment for the better management of the public railways. These great national properties must be at once withdrawn from all political influence, and worked on principles of economy and efficiency, and of commercial benefit to the State as well as of general convenience to all classes of the people.

In connection with the one principal difficulty to be surmounted, the Civil Service of the colony must be subject to a careful and searching enquiry with a view to a thorough reform. The efforts of the Government will be directed towards simplifying the departmental machinery, reducing the number of persons employed, securing fitness in each office for the duties to be performed, and eradicating the evil of favouritism in appointments. In the performance of this delicate task the most scrupulous care will be taken not to do any injustice to gentlemen who have faithfully served the public, and not to impair the effectiveness of any branch of the service. Under the guise of retrenchment, Ministers will be no parties to sanctioning arbitrary removal or inconsiderate treatment, and we will especially avoid any harsh or summary dealing with the humbler ranks of the Government employés.

For some considerable time past a wave of depression has rolled over nearly every producing and commercial interest in


  ― 183 ―
the colony, which may be likened to those disturbances of the ocean arising from remote and distant volcanic causes not easy to be distinctly traced. But to a large extent the public distress may be attributed to the feeling of uncertainty and uneasiness which has prevailed, and which can never prevail in any state of civil society without shaking confidence, enfeebling enterprise, and paralysing the active operations of capital. One thing is certain, that in a land, where on all sides nothing is so much needed as human labour, no pair of healthy human hands ought to be seeking employment in vain. In dealing with the problem of the temporary dearth of employment amongst the working population, the Government will avoid giving to any measure of relief the character of pauperism, and will endeavour to absorb this spasmodic labour in some form or other of permanent value. But it is fervently hoped that, with the return of public confidence and the more favourable seasons now set in, this class of labour will speedily flow into the ordinary channels of profitable employment.

As one means of imparting new help and vigour to the administration of affairs, and economising the public expenditure, it is intended without loss of time to introduce a Bill to establish a well-devised system of local self-government, under which the practical knowledge of well-informed residents may be turned to account in carrying out, more cheaply, and with more regard to actual wants, all district improvements. It is not doubted that the ultimate results in the working of any such measure will be a much larger amount of public satisfaction and a marked saving of public money.

Other questions of scarcely less importance to the cause of good government, including much-needed reforms in the administration of justice, will receive the early attention of the Government.

It remains for me to state the principles of the fiscal policy of the Administration, and above all things I desire that there shall be no uncertain sound on this subject. If we are fortunate enough to secure the confidence of the new Parliament, one of our first measures will be to repeal the mischievous


  ― 184 ―
Customs Duties Act of last year. We shall raise our Customs revenue under a tariff more limited than in former years, and virtually throw the ports of the colony open to the civilised world. If resort must be had to any new form of taxation, it certainly will not be an income tax, but we shall seek to devise a comprehensive and equitably-arranged system of property taxation which shall reach all classes in proportion to their ability to pay.

In meeting the old, mouldy, worn-out, empirical doctrine of Protection, we face it as deadly enemies. All that can be said in its support has been said a million of times during the last two centuries of British history while it yet flourished in the rank soil of monopoly and corruption, and was watered by a sea of tears from the drooping eyes of breadless men, women, and children. While giving credit to many of its advocates amongst us for their conscientiousness, it is impossible to respect their narrow intellectual efforts to furbish up for our acceptance the hundred-times-exploded fallacies of a past age. In this country the most eminent servants of the people, Dr. Lang, Stuart Donaldson, the Macarthurs, Charles Cowper, William Forster, the Plunketts and the Butlers, John Robertson—all the builders, with one exception, of the noble fabric of our Constitutional liberties—have been champions of Free-trade. The country never was more prosperous, never made more rapid progress, than under the fullest effect of its Free-trade policy. The persons who now seek to thrust down the people's throats the stifling creed of Protection are for the most part comparatively unknown, have never rendered any service to the country, and perversely blind themselves to the great lessons of modern civilisation. On the wide stage of British progress the noblest powers of intellect, the richest acquisitions of learning and culture, the grandest records of great services, from Adam Smith and William Pitt to Bright and Gladstone, have been devoted to the cause of Free-trade. During the lifetime of the two statesmen last named, Great Britain has exhibited to the world a magnificent march in national prosperity, for which no example can be found in any former age. If we


  ― 185 ―
turn to the United States, the honest enquirer who looks for the fruits of Protection discovers mammoth monopolies which exercise a blighting and disastrous influence on the national life, side by side with factories created by artificial laws which are closed against their operatives from inability to find markets; and a working population, nominally free, but in many instances ground to the dust by the weight of taxation and the want of sympathy from the swarms around them for ever struggling for no earthly object but to grow rich, and the class of millionaires above and beyond who live in splendid waste and idleness.

We enter into this conflict with no misgiving as to the result. We know that, come what may, our reward is certain if we fight the battle with true faith and courage. It is a conflict between light and darkness; between freedom and the expansion of human energies, and slavery under a specious disguise with fetters for the mind and the limbs. The working man, whether in the coal mines, on the gold fields, on the farm or the station, on the public works or in any other field of industry, can gain nothing, and would suffer severely from Protection. It is a policy to cheapen his brain and muscle, and to increase the price of his food supplies and every article of clothing or comfort for his humble household; a policy to depreciate the hard-earned sovereign which his wife takes to market to nine-tenths of its purchasing power, or possibly to a lower value. Of all men, the Australian farmer should be an earnest supporter of Free-trade. A tax on imported grain would revive the most odious tax in the worst times of bad government in England, and it could not fail to array, sooner or later, the great majority of the people against him in unnatural hostility. For every pound which could by any possibility come to him by taxation of this kind, two pounds would be taken out of his pocket by the taxation on articles which he must of necessity purchase for his use and comfort. What the farmer requires, and what he ought to have, is something quite different; facilities for acquiring a knowledge of the best methods of treating the land under cultivation, and of the products


  ― 186 ―
most suited to different qualities of soil and different degrees of climate; and in addition to these things, easy, expeditious, and cheap means of conveyance to market.

The main issues which I and my colleagues submit to the country are good government and commercial freedom. We purpose fighting the battle boldly and in the light of the day. On every hustings we shall plant the flag of Free-trade, with the motto, ‘He who is not with us is against us.’ I appeal to the electors of the whole colony not to swerve from the clear line of public rectitude, but make every candidate for their suffrages speak out the faith that is in him. Let us have no more of the suspicious class of ‘independent candidates,’ which is generally a cover for self-seeking or something worse. Let the electors set their faces against doubtful characters of all sorts and conditions. Let there be no more ‘sneaking in.’ Let those who support a retrograde policy honestly say so before the world. Let those who are anxious for purity and economy in government, for the lightening of the people's burdens, for the maintenance of our good name abroad, and for the restoration of New South Wales to a state of solid prosperity and to her rightful place among the Australian colonies, take sides with the men who, in this trying crisis, are determined, united as one, to use all their powers to accomplish these great ends.

I am, Gentlemen,

Your faithful servant,

HENRY PARKES.

Sydney, January 25, 1887.

The General Election was conducted with much vigour, and in some districts great surprises were experienced in the story told by the ballot-box. I worked myself to the utmost of my energy in support of friends, moving about from one place to another wherever aid seemed to be wanted. But, what was better than individual help, a genuine public spirit was


  ― 187 ―
called into active play in the constituencies. The result was a Parliamentary majority of two-thirds in support of the new Government.

Parliament met on March 8. The first business was the election of Speaker. The candidates were Mr. James Henry Young and Mr. George Richard Dibbs, late Prime Minister; and Mr. Young was elected by a majority of fourteen in a House of 112 members. The opening Speech was delivered by the Governor on the following day. The first three paragraphs will show the confusion into which the ordinary business of the country had been allowed to drift, and the determination of the Government to repeal the Customs Duties Act of the late Parliament. The Speech said:—

Owing to the irregular state of that part of the business of Parliament on which both the economy and the efficiency of the public service so largely depend, it is necessary that the present Session should not be of extended duration; and it is felt that full reliance may be placed in your wisdom and sense of duty to deal with the important matters which strictly belong to the year 1886 as speedily as may be, consistent with careful consideration. As the Session proper to the year 1887 has yet to succeed the present, it is clear that its opening should not be delayed beyond the month of June, in view of bringing the public business within the limits of constitutional usage.

Notwithstanding the difficulties arising out of the arrears of Parliamentary business, and the necessity for restoring the action of Parliament to a normal and healthy condition, you will be invited to pass into law some measures of the highest urgency and importance.

A Bill will be introduced without delay to establish a Customs tariff, which will be framed to give effect to the emphatic


  ― 188 ―
verdict of the electoral bodies in favour of the principle of unrestricted freedom in the development of the industrial and commercial interests of the country.

The speech announced, among other measures, a Bill to provide for the better management of the Government railways. The Bill to repeal the Customs Duties Act of the late Parliament, and to simplify the tariff, was duly introduced, and after protracted discussion and many divisions in committee, receiving all through the support of overwhelming majorities, was finally read the third time and sent to the Upper Chamber, where it passed through all its stages in much shorter time. The Bill, which entirely repealed a large number of duties, and reduced the tariff to a smaller number of articles than were included before the passing of the Jennings Act, received the Royal assent and became law within ten months from the enactment of that measure. The session was largely wasted by excessive and rancorous talk which rendered the passing of new Standing Orders necessary. But in spite of the obstructive courses pursued by a small section of members, some useful measures were passed, and the way prepared for much more important legislation. The prorogation took place on July 13, and the Speech contained the following paragraph on the success of the taxation measures:—

I congratulate you upon the important Acts which you have passed for simplifying the Customs tariff and reducing the number of dutiable articles to such narrow limits as will not seriously interfere with the operations of commerce, and for inaugurating a policy, though at present incomplete, which is


  ― 189 ―
sanctioned by enlightened public opinion, and has been found in the United Kingdom to work with indisputable effect in promoting the welfare of all classes of the people. By these measures you have faithfully given effect to the verdict of the constituencies as recorded in the late elections, and it cannot be doubted that they will prove eminently conducive to the general prosperity.

Among the early acts of the administration Sir Patrick Jennings and Mr. Wisdom (afterwards Sir Robert) were appointed to represent the colony at the Imperial Conference in London.




  ― 190 ―

8. CHAPTER VIII

THE PUBLIC WORKS ACT—ITS PROVISIONS IN SUPPORT OF THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MINISTERS AND THE AUTHORITY OF PARLIAMENT—SHUFFLING TACTICS OF THE OPPOSITION—MY SPEECH IN DEFENCE OF THE BILL—MEMBERS WHO OPPOSED THE BILL CHANGE THEIR OPINIONS AFTER SEEING THE ACT IN OPERATION—THE STATE RAILWAYS—CHANGE OF MANAGEMENT—THE NEW COMMISSIONERS—UNSCRUPULOUS ATTACKS UPON THEM—RESULTS OF THEIR MANAGEMENT—THE CHINESE CRISIS OF 1888—NEW LEGISLATION—DECISIVE ACTION OF THE EXECUTIVE—RANCOROUS OPPOSITION—NEW BANKRUPTCY LAW—THE ADDITIONAL NAVAL FORCE—SUCCESSFUL PASSAGE OF THE BILL—‘THREE CHEERS FOR AUSTRALIA AND FOR OLD ENGLAND’—IMPORTANT WORK OF THE MINISTRY

AFTER a recess of only two months and seven days the second Session of the new Parliament was opened by Lord Carrington on September 20, 1887. The speech announced several measures of more than ordinary importance, and explained that members were asked thus early to renew their labours ‘with the hope of bringing the financial affairs of the colony within the limits of regularity and order imposed by the Constitution.’ It has been explained in previous pages that great confusion had resulted from, and little advantage had been gained by, the disregard of usage and season in conducting parliamentary business. My colleagues considered with me that it was our duty to do all in our power to bring the transaction of business within


  ― 191 ―
proper limits, even at some present sacrifices of personal convenience.

One of the new measures was the Public Works Act, now on the Statute Book of the colony. The idea of this Bill arose out of the loose and profligate expenditure of money for public works in past years. I had determined within my own mind that this absolute absence of effective check in public expenditure should be brought to an end. The threefold difficulty in any scheme of reform was to hold the Government responsible for its proposals, to ensure an independent investigation, and at the same time to preserve the authority of Parliament unimpaired over the expenditure. The measure which was framed under my instructions has attracted much attention, and among others, Sir John Macdonald, not long before his lamented death, applied to me to supply him with copies of it, and all information on the subject, with the view of considering the expediency of its adoption in Canada.

Under the Public Works Act the Parliamentary course of procedure is this. The Minister in charge of the Works Department must in that capacity explain his proposal to the Legislative Assembly, but, instead of appealing to his political majority to vote for resolutions there and then, he must move that it be referred to a non-Ministerial Parliamentary authority for investigation. It requires little insight to see that the knowledge that his plans and estimates have to go through this ordeal will make him more industrious and careful in preparing them. And what is the authority which


  ― 192 ―
is called into existence by the Act to check the Minister? It is a Standing Committee of both Houses of Parliament, chosen from both political sides. Thus, Parliament itself, by the only practical means, and by its own committee, instead of dissipating its authority in a loose discussion, exercises it in sifting, searching, and reasoning out the Minister's calculations and arguments.

The Act, as it stands, provides for the appointment of the ‘Standing Committee on Public Works,’ as soon as practicable after the opening of each Session, such committee to consist of five members of the Legislative Council and eight members of the Legislative Assembly. Each member has to subscribe an oath to ‘faithfully, impartially, and truly’ execute and perform the duties of the office he undertakes. The committee has power to enter and inspect any land, building, place, or material; it may summon such persons as may appear necessary to attend as witnesses; it may compel the production of books, maps, plans or documents, relating to matters under investigation; and it may examine witnesses on oath.

All works exceeding in cost twenty thousand pounds, except fortifications and works of defence and certain works of repair authorised by Act of Parliament to be carried out by the Railway Commissioners, must come under the functions of the Parliamentary Committee. The 13th section of the Act definitely prescribes the course of procedure:—

After the first gazetting of the Parliamentary Committee of Public Works pursuant to this Act, no public work of any kind whatsoever (except as expected in the last preceding section,


  ― 193 ―
and except such works as the Railway Commissioners are authorised to carry out pursuant to the ‘Government Railways Act of 1888’), the estimated cost of completing which shall exceed twenty thousand pounds, and whether such work be a continuation, completion, repair, reconstruction, extension, or a new work, shall be commenced, unless sanctioned as hereinafter provided:

  • (1) Every such proposed work shall, in the first place, be submitted and explained in the Legislative Assembly by some member of the Executive Council having a seat in such Assembly (hereafter termed ‘the Minister’). The explanation shall comprise an estimate of the cost of such work when completed, together with such plans and specifications or other descriptions as the Minister shall deem proper, and in the case of a proposed railway or tramway, a map or plan of the line and book of reference, together with a report by the Railway Commissioners on the probable cost of construction and maintenance of such railway or tramway, and an estimate of the probable revenue to be derived therefrom; and such estimate, plans, specifications, or descriptions shall be prepared and be authenticated or verified in the prescribed manner.
  • (2) Upon motion, in the usual manner, made by the Minister or by any member of the Assembly, such proposed work shall be referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works for their report thereon.
  • (3) The Committee shall, with all convenient despatch, deal with the matter so referred to them, and for that purpose may exercise all powers by this Act conferred on such Committee.
  • (4) The Committee shall, as soon as conveniently practicable (regard being had to the nature and importance of the proposed work), report to the Legislative Assembly the result of their enquiries.
  • (5) After the receipt of such report the said Assembly shall, by resolution, declare, either that it is expedient to carry out the proposed work, or that it is not expedient to carry out the same. Provided always that the said Assembly, instead of declaring affirmatively or negatively as aforesaid, may resolve that


      ― 194 ―
    the report of the Committee shall, for reasons or purposes to be stated in the resolution, be remitted for their further consideration and report to the said Committee; in which case such Committee shall consider the matter of such new reference, and report thereon accordingly.

The 15th Section, however, provides that if ‘any such resolution declares that it is not expedient to carry out any proposed work, no proposal for a public work in substance identical with the work referred to in such resolution shall be submitted to the Legislative Assembly until after the expiration of one year from the notification of such resolution as aforesaid, unless the Governor, by writing under his hand addressed to the said Committee, declares that, in his opinion and in view of the public interest, it is desirable that any such proposal should be resubmitted to the said Assembly.’

I moved the second reading of the Bill on February 8, 1888, and the debate occupied two nights. I argued that the management of the railways completed and handed over for public traffic ought to be kept distinctly separate from the policy of the Government and the departmental machinery in the construction of public works, whether railways or of other character, and I contended that, though the management of the railways as great State-properties ought to be withdrawn from all political influence, the origination and construction of railways, as of all public works, must necessarily form a vital part of the policy of Government. In this province of expenditure, where the colony was so deeply concerned at every step in adding to its burdens, I contended that the Bill did not in the least degree take


  ― 195 ―
away or diminish the Minister's responsibility, while it gave to Parliament a more effective and certain means of exercising its authority, and at the same time ensured a thorough examination of every proposed new expenditure. In the debate that followed it was difficult to keep the questions of railway management and railway construction separate in the average member's mind; and the Parliamentary Committee got continually mixed up with some supposed commission and an imaginary Board, and, as is usually the case, those who were most confused on the subject were most active and eloquent in explaining it. Mr. Dibbs, the leader of the Opposition, distinguished himself greatly in misconception and misrepresentation. He began: ‘I have no hesitation in saying that a more miserable piece of work for the consideration of Parliament was never submitted.’ The whole measure was a gross scheme to shift the responsibility of Ministers to other shoulders, and to rob Parliament of its rights. Other members followed in the same track, and one courageous gentleman moved to substitute for the Parliamentary Committee the following:—

A Board of five members of the Civil Service, to be called the Public Works Construction Board, shall be appointed for the purpose of exercising such powers and authorities, performing such duties, and be liable to such obligations as are by this Act vested in or imposed upon such Board. The names of the persons appointed to be members of such Board shall be notified in the Gazette with all convenient despatch.

But the Bill was read the second time without a division, and, though in committee Mr. Dibbs again


  ― 196 ―
declared it was ‘taking away the liberties of the people, and he would resist it as far as he possibly could,’ the amendment just quoted was defeated by forty-one votes to five, and Mr. Dibbs did not vote at all.

In reference to the proposal in committee to substitute a Board of Civil Servants or Experts, I made the following speech:—

The honourable member (Mr. Toohey), when he supported the second reading of this Bill, must have entirely misunderstood its character and objects, or he could never support this amendment. My object is to conserve the authority, the independence, and the liberties of Parliament. The amendment is to hand over our privileges to a Board of Civil Servants. We have done a great deal too much of that already, and I, for one, will certainly be no party to such a step. I would rather the present mode of procedure went on. It would be infinitely safer, infinitely more in accord with the intentions of Parliamentary government. I will now try to deal with the arguments, or so-called arguments, as they have been put forth one by one. I first come to the value of civil servants for this particular enquiry. The value is enhanced by their being supposed to be experts. We do not want experts. We want colonists of experience, good standing, and character, who understand the country in the general interests of the country; and we do not want the expert knowledge of civil servants in conducting an enquiry of this kind. As to the independence and freedom from what is called log-rolling if human nature is so irredeemably rotten that members of Parliament cannot be trusted, how can the civil servants be trusted? How is it possible for the assaults of improper influences which will affect members of Parliament to be warded off from civil servants? Now let us see what is the object and intention of this Bill. At all times I have tried to draw a distinct line between the legislative power and the executive power of the country. For that reason, and holding those views, years ago


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I maintained that the Executive ought not to interfere with the Speaker and the President in the appointments to the offices of Parliament, and if I had observed them I should have resisted to the utmost those most unparliamentary provisions in the Civil Service Act, which place the Speaker and the President in the position of a Minister, and make the appointments of this Parliament subject to the investigation of the Civil Service Board. Those provisions are in direct conflict with the spirit of Parliamentary government, and it is only because of my absence from the House, and my oversight, that I allowed, without the utmost resistance, those most unparliamentary provisions to creep into that statute. In the same manner I now draw the broadest and most distinct line between the executive power and the legislative power. What does my Bill do? When the executive power comes down to this House in the shape of a Minister to submit a proposal for a large public expenditure—whether it is a railway, a bridge, or something else —I intervene, not by a band of civil servants who are under that Minister's thumb, but I intervene by a body of your fellow-representatives to guard your privileges, to protect you against the executive power. That is my object. I hold the power, the authority, and the independence of Parliament above all other considerations, and the body I seek to create is a body of your own members, to conduct an investigation in check of the responsible Minister, in check of the civil servants, in check of the whole machinery of the civil government, and strictly in the interests of the representatives of the people. My measure is in favour of liberty; yours is in favour of undermining liberty. Mine is in favour of the authority and the power of the representatives of the people of this country as a check upon the Executive Government of the country; yours is a proposal to hand over this enquiry to the very servants of the Executive. I cannot think of any proposal more adverse to the real foundation of a representative Parliament. I do not wish to influence honourable gentlemen; but most certainly if such an amendment as this is carried, I shall decline to proceed with the Bill. It would entirely destroy the Bill. It would be infinitely better


  ― 198 ―
to leave matters as they are. With regard to how the scheme would work, unless we are to come to the sad conclusion that no body of representatives can be trusted, there can be no doubt whatever that the scheme would work well. I pointed out in my reply on the second reading, that my proposal is really in harmony with great reforms in all parts of the world. In the Senate of the United States the whole business of consideration is conducted by committees. As soon as Congress meets, the Senate appoints committees to consider nearly every branch of political and economic business. For example, there is a committee on defence, a committee on finance, a committee on foreign trade, a committee on post-offices, and committees on every conceivable thing. Any measure that comes down, generally recommended by message from the President, is at once referred for the consideration of one of those committees. But I do not rely upon that. I rely upon the great change that has taken place in the mother-country in that great body which is the mother of parliaments—the Imperial Parliament. It has been found there that it is utterly impossible to conduct the multifarious business which has grown up of late years, and the device has been resorted to of appointing grand committees to consider the more important business. Then, if we pass over the Channel, and go to France, we find that in that great legislative body, the Chamber of Deputies, Bills, instead of being considered as they are in this House—as this Bill is being considered on the present occasion—are considered by committees of the Chamber of Deputies. The House only confirms or disapproves when the committee has finished with the Bill. The tendency in all parliamentary bodies now is to relieve the main body by doing the work by means of committees. Then I come to the objection that it is proposed that the committee should be partly constructed of members of this House, and partly of members of the other House. That falls to the ground the moment you reflect that no Bill for a railway can be passed into law without the assent of the other House. The other House must take a co-ordinate part with us in passing any Bill whatever. If that be the case, what becomes of the objection


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to a mixed committee, partly composed of that House, to conduct simply the business of the enquiry? The real value of this proposed enquiry consists in this: that a committee so constructed would be an independent body, as independent as it possibly can be; and that it would reflect and represent the Parliament of the country, not a body of civil servants, but composed of members of Parliament representing fairly the two Houses, which is the highest authority that could be constituted. The essence of the whole thing is that as members of the House in their legislative capacity they would stand in check over the improper tendencies of the executive power. There is no possibility of fairly meeting the arguments in support of this proposal. Now, there is no information—nothing to guide Parliament—except the bald statement of the Minister, whoever he may be. He has to introduce his proposal on his own responsibility, and to submit his statement. He would have to do the same now. But a body would step in, not a body composed of civil servants, but a body composed of yourselves, of the two Houses, who eventually have to consider the Bill, and pass it into law. They would intervene with the highest powers with which they can be invested, to sift all these proposals in the real interests of the country. I do not believe that the gentlemen returned to this House would be false to their oaths, that they would be false to their highest sense of duty. I believe that with but rare exceptions they would carry out their duties faithfully, honestly, and for the benefit of the country. There would be every chance of getting the very best, the most sifted, and the most pure information that could possibly be obtained. Then the Legislative Assembly steps in, takes up the business where it was left off, and instead of deciding on no information whatever of a trustworthy character, it decides in the light of the evidence obtained in this scrupulously careful manner. The improvement, I maintain again, would be incalculable, both upon the present method and in preserving the power of the representatives of the people against the Executive Government.




  ― 200 ―

It is gratifying to be able to say that several gentlemen who opposed the passing of the Bill have since acknowledged that the working of the Act has satisfied them that they were mistaken, and that the enactment of this measure was a great step in sound legislation. We occasionally hear a discontented Minister, who has had his old sores rubbed by the Public Works Committee, wailing over his lost power of man[oelig]uvring his schemes through Parliament; and when he turns over afresh his favourite Board of Experts, he involuntarily grasps at the facile substitute. Or, now and then, we meet with a statesman in his novitiate, his ideas not yet out of the gristle, who speaks approvingly of an investigation by professional men, and who would have no difficulty in finding the very man himself. But in any great national proposal which involves the expenditure of tens of thousands, perhaps a million or two, of the public money, the interests of the country are safest within the scrutiny and control of Parliament itself. Parliament can command the assistance of experts, has ample means of supplying itself with the guiding light of science whenever it is required; but it cannot delegate to others its supreme functions in protection and control of the public revenues.

Another measure of the Government, which may fairly be classed with the Public Works Act, was a Bill to make better provision for the management of the Government railways and tramways. Up to this date the railways had been under the ministerial control of the Department of Public Works. There was an officer styled ‘The Commissioner of Railways’—and the office


  ― 201 ―
was filled by an able and deserving man—but he had no executive power apart from the Minister; and the whole department, especially in respect to the railway service, was hampered with the pressure of members of Parliament on behalf of needy kinsmen and unfortunate friends. The new Bill provided for the appointment of these Commissioners, to be a body corporate by the name ‘The Railway Commissioners of New South Wales,’ and to ‘have perpetual succession and a common seal, and be capable in law of suing and being sued, and, subject to the provisions hereinafter contained, shall have power to take, purchase, sell, lease, and hold lands, tenements, and hereditaments, goods, chattels, and other property for the purposes of the Act.’ One of these officers was to be appointed as Chief Commissioner.

By the 16th section it was provided that, for the purposes of this Act, there shall be vested absolutely in the Commissioners, and, in respect of land, for an estate in fee simple—

  • (1) All railways and tramways, and all rolling-stock heretofore constructed or acquired by or on behalf of Her Majesty, pursuant to any Act in force for the time being authorising the construction of railways, rolling stock, or tramways—and all railways and tramways hereafter to be so constructed or acquired, upon transfer of the same to such Commissioners in the prescribed manner.
  • (2) All piers, wharves, jetties, stations, yards, and buildings connected or used in connection with such railways, tramways, and rolling-stock, being on Crown land or land acquired for or on behalf of Her Majesty respectively.
  • (3) The land, being the Crown land or land acquired or


      ― 202 ―
    which may be acquired for or on behalf of Her Majesty, over or upon which, such piers, wharves, jetties, stations, yards, and buildings have been, or may hereafter be constructed or erected.
  • (4) The Crown land or land acquired for or on behalf of Her Majesty included within the boundary fences of all such railways or tramways.
  • (5) All land outside such fences acquired by or on behalf of Her Majesty, under any Act authorising the taking or acquiring of land for railway or tramway purposes.
  • (6) All Crown and other lands taken under the authority of any Act authorising the taking of land for railway or tramway purposes.
  • (7) All telegraph posts erected on any lands by this Act vested in the Commissioners, which posts at the passing of this Act were under the control of the Commissioner for Railways or any person for or on behalf of Her Majesty, and all wires, instruments, and other telegraphic or telephonic apparatus used in connection with the railways or tramways so vested as aforesaid.

To the Commissioners was given the authority to appoint the members of their staff and all railway servants, and all other persons necessary for the discharge of the duties of their corporate office with certain checks lodged with the Governor in Council.

The Act received the Royal assent on May 17, and after much enquiry in different parts of the world, and the fullest consideration, the Commissioners were appointed in the persons of Edward Millar Gard Eddy, chief, William Meeke Fehon, and Charles Nicholson Jewel Oliver. Few acts of my public life have given me more unmixed satisfaction than this change in the management of the State railways. I had the warm support of my colleagues all through in resisting every attempt of political influence either to give a sinister


  ― 203 ―
twist to the clauses of the Bill in committee or to bring the weight of personal favouritism to bear on the appointments.

The colony was fortunate in its selection of Commissioners. Mr. Eddy is a person who, in any position, and in any part of the civilised world, would make good his claim to be considered an able and upright man. With a high sense of personal honour, and sensitive almost to a fault to the obligations of fair dealing between man and man, he has refinement mingled with strength of character, and that rare gift in the human organisation— resource in critical emergencies. He brought to his post a thorough knowledge of railway business, and a practical acquaintance with railway administration, which he had gained in long service under some of the most competent railway chiefs in the United Kingdom. Mr. Fehon came to his new appointment with excellent credentials of competency as a trained railway servant, and with a high character and capacity for business. Mr. Oliver had won his own way in the Civil Service of New South Wales by his personal merits and indomitable perseverance, and had proved himself a skilful organiser. The three Commissioners while I write (May and June 1892) are passing through a crucial trial of their fitness and incorruptibility, at the instance of worthless persons who, without a shadow of foundation in fact, preferred the most serious charges against them; but it would hardly be possible to find an honest man in the community who does not believe that they will come out of the enquiry with just ground for the renewal of the confidence of the public.




  ― 204 ―

The result of the management by the Commissioners will be best seen by comparison. In the year 1882, under the former system, when the colony had only 1,268 miles of railways, with a capital invested of 15,843,616l., the net earnings, after paying working expenses, were 763,661l. for the year. In 1888, when the Commissioners under my Act took over the railways, with a mileage of 2,244 and a capital of 27,722,748l., the net earnings, after working expenses, were 766,332l., giving an increase on the six years of only 2,661l. While there was in those years an increase on the total earnings of 2,673,278l., there was an accumulated decrease on the net earnings amounting to 139,897l. I now give the result of the new management. In 1889 there were 2,171 miles of railways, with a capital invested of 29,839,167l., and the net earnings, after paying working expenses, rose to 903,875l. In 1890 there were 2,182 miles of railways, with a capital of 30,555,123l., and the amount of the net earnings was 967,251l. In 1891 the railway mileage was the same, with a capital of 31,768,617l., and the net earnings had risen to 1,143,050l. For the current year (1892) the report of the Commissioners is not issued, but I have made such enquiries as satisfy me that it will show a steady increase. We thus have for the first time, with better organisation and greatly improved means of accommodation for the public, a solid railway income of 3½ per cent. on the railway capital, after paying all working expenses. In other words, the railways of New South Wales are on the eve of paying the interest on the capital expended in their construction, and


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being no longer a burden upon the taxpayers of the colony.

The management of the State tramways (which for the most part are confined to Sydney and the metropolitan suburbs) shows even a better result. In 1884 the net earnings amounted to only 4,775l. In 1891 they amounted to 53,171l. At the present time the tramways give a return of 5½ per cent., after paying all working expenses.

I think I and my colleagues of 1888 may be pardoned some feeling of pride at this practical vindication of the railway legislation of our administration. It is worth the abuse we received from those who wished to make these great State properties a field for the exercise of their unwholesome influence, and the means of serving their friends and supporters.

Towards the middle of 1888 several vessels arrived close upon each other in Sydney harbour with Chinese immigrants. Quite a trade had grown up with a class of steam trading vessels in bringing Chinese, chiefly from Hongkong. Three or four ships were in port at the same time, with Chinese on board. This occurrence led to boisterous proceedings among large numbers of the working classes, and, if the Chinamen had attempted to land in the usual way, there could be little doubt that violence, and possibly serious bloodshed, would have taken place. One large public meeting was held, presided over by the Mayor, which adjourned in a body to Parliament House. The angry mob, which the adjourned meeting had now become, filled the space before the building, crowded the corridors, and some of the


  ― 206 ―
intruders attempted to force their way into the chamber of the Legislative Assembly, which was sitting at the time. The Mayor and others saw me in an anteroom, but I declined to go outside to the crowd. Ultimately a written message was brought in to me enquiring if the Chinamen would be allowed to land, and, as the Government had already decided that they should not land, I returned a written answer to that effect. My answer was read to the crowd, which soon afterwards dispersed. Other meetings were held, and at one it was computed that 40,000 persons were present.

In the agitation against the influx of Chinese, which is common to all classes of the working population, there are forces which the superficial observer is likely to overlook. Every mother of a working-man's family is an uncompromising opponent, and every child imbibes the feeling of resistance and denunciation from its parents. No outlook is possible to the humble house-hold dependent upon daily labour which is not obscured and rendered less hopeful by the contingent intrusion of the Chinese. Where moral principles and provident habits prevail, this feeling is probably strongest. How could it be otherwise? It will not be denied that it is meritorious in the poor to do the best they can for their children. How can their ‘best’ in the struggle of life be assisted by the intrusion of hordes of men who are foreign to them in language, religion, notions of law, and all the usages of their state of society, and who are of a servile race?

Persons who in a new country have to do with the administration of government, or the making of the


  ― 207 ―
laws, however disinclined they may be to pander to any class, are nevertheless bound to study the peace of society and the contentment of all classes. It is mainly because the influx of Chinese, or of persons of any other inferior nationality, is a disturbing cause to social peace and contentment, that it should not be tolerated. No advantage to employers, no convenience to a limited number of citizens, can compensate for loosening the consanguineous ties which bind a State together. If we may speak of statesmanship, there is yet another and a higher ground of objection. In founding a free State no nationality or class should be considered whom we are not prepared to admit to all our franchises, all our rights of property, all our privileges of citizenship, all our social usages and trusts, not excluding intermarriage. The existence of a servile or degraded class is incompatible with the safe possession of national liberty.

This was the second occasion when I had to face the Chinese difficulty by legislation. My colleagues concurred with me that the wisest course was to get rid of the trouble altogether. We determined, therefore, to introduce a Bill virtually prohibiting the landing of Chinese; and we determined to press it through Parliament with the least possible delay. Whatever we might do, we knew we should be blamed. If we did nothing, it would be cowardly indifference to the danger; if we went halfway, it would be bungling incapacity to deal with it; if we went the whole length, it would be high-handedness and tyranny. We tried to see our simple duty in the crisis which confronted us, and to perform it with a single view to the demands upon us.




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In the beginning the Government had sent to the Secretary of State the following cablegram:—

March 31, 1888.

In reference to Chinese immigration and the—enquiry made by the Marquis of Salisbury, your Excellency's advisers beg briefly to explain that the law of this colony for some years past has imposed the restriction of a poll-tax of 10l. on each immigrant, and a limitation of one immigrant to every hundred tons of the ship's burden; but owing to recent occurrences severer measures are now demanded throughout all the colonies. This state of things has given rise to new reflections in dealing with a difficulty which threatens to become a calamity. As these colonies form an important part of the Empire, it is submitted that our cause of contention is of sufficient national concern to be taken up by the Empire; if we have no voice in the making of Treaties, it seems only just that our interests should be considered and protected by those who exercise that power. We learn by public report that the Government of the United States has entered into a Treaty with the Government of China by which Chinese immigration into America is no longer permitted. We fail to see why Australia may not be similarly protected. We desire, on behalf of this colony, through your Excellency, to impress upon Her Majesty's Imperial Advisers the more prominent phases of the Chinese question as it specially and almost exclusively affects the Australian section of the British people. (1) The Australian ports are within easy sail of the ports of China. (2) The climate as well as certain branches of trade and industry in Australia, such as the cultivation of the soil for domestic purposes, and tin and gold mining, are peculiarly attractive to the Chinese. (3) The working classes of the British people in all the affinities of race are directly opposed to their Chinese competitors. (4) There can be no sympathy, and in the future it is to be apprehended that there will be no peace, between the two races. (5) The enormous number of the Chinese population intensifies every consideration of this class of immigration


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in comparison with the emigration of any other nation. (6) The most prevailing determination in all the Australian communities is to preserve the British type in the population. (7) There can be no interchange of ideas of religion or citizenship, nor can there be intermarriage or social communion between the British and Chinese. It is respectfully submitted that the examination of these principal phases of the question can only lead to one conclusion, namely, that the Chinese must be restricted from emigrating to any part of Australasia. It will be seen that, while the question scarcely touches the people of the United Kingdom, it vitally concerns these great colonies, whose importance in their political and commercial relations entitles them to be protected by the diplomatic influence and the powers of treaty which belong to the Empire. With renewed expressions of our loyal attachment to Her Majesty, we urge that immediate steps be taken to open such negotiations with the Emperor of China as will result in permanent security to the Australian colonies from the disturbance of Chinese immigration in any form. The matter is too grave and urgent to admit of long delay. However desirable it may be to avoid the irritation and conflict of interests which may arise from local legislation of a drastic character, if protection cannot be afforded as now sought, the Australian Parliaments must act from the force of public opinion in devising measures to defend the colonies from consequences which they cannot relax in their efforts to avert.

HENRY PARKES.

(For Cabinet.)

On May 15 we informed the Legislative Assembly of our purpose, and on the following day I moved the suspension of the Standing Orders to admit of the Chinese Restriction Bill passing through all its stages in one sitting. I did not say one word in support of my motion, but an angry debate was got up, and I said a few words in reply to some of the speeches. The


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feeling of the House was so strongly with me that no division was called for, and the House immediately went into committee to consider the expediency of bringing in the Bill.

On moving the second reading I made the following speech, which throughout was enthusiastically cheered. I mention the fact to show that the House approved of the course the Government had decided to take, which was further shown by the only two divisions in committee, 31 for and 18 against the Government, and 37 for and 10 against:—

Sir HENRY PARKES rose to move:

That this Bill be printed and now read the second time.

He said: In moving the second reading of this Bill, I disclaim any attitude of even aversion to the Chinese people settled in this country; and I disclaim any possible action on the part of the Government in deference to public agitations out of doors. I am convinced in my conscience that neither have we at any time joined with those who have derided, and, as I think, traduced, the Chinese residents in this country; nor have we at any time yielded to the pressure of popular agitation. So far as the Chinese people who reside amongst us are concerned, I have for thirty years, many times and often, borne testimony to their law-abiding, industrious, thrifty, and peaceable character, and I have never for a single moment joined with those who have held them up as in many respects more disreputable than a similar number of English subjects. For a generation—long before some of the men who are listening to me took any part whatever in public life—and at all times I have opposed the introduction of Chinese upon these, as I conceive, national, and to a large extent, philosophical grounds: I maintain that in a country like New South Wales it is our duty to preserve the type of the British nation, and that we ought not, for any consideration whatever, to admit any element that would detract


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from, or in any appreciable degree lower, that admirable type of nationality. Now, I would like for a moment to examine the ground on which I stand. I contend that if this young nation is to maintain the fabric of its liberties unassailed and unimpaired, it cannot admit into its population any element that of necessity must be of an inferior nature and character. In other words, I have maintained at all times that we should not encourage or admit amongst us any class of persons whatever whom we are not prepared to advance to all our franchises, to all our privileges as citizens, and all our social rights, including the right of marriage. I maintain that no class of persons should be admitted here, so far as we can reasonably exclude them, who cannot come amongst us, take up all our rights, perform on a ground of equality all our duties, and share in our august and lofty work of founding a free nation. It is on this very intelligible, this solid ground that I, at all events, have been averse to the admission of Chinese. Now, I want to call attention to the state of the question at the present moment. It cannot be denied—it is tacitly admitted by all—that there is a widespread legitimate agitation on this subject. We, the members of the Government, who are responsible for bringing in this Bill, have been in no way instrumental at any time in promoting this agitation; but the question is there, black and startling, in the midst of our social economies, irritating, agitating all classes of persons, and operating in a most intense way on those who are least informed, and for that reason the most dangerous. Can this thing be allowed to go on, this gangrene in the body politic, this seed of disturbance in the midst of society? No friend of the social fabric in this country can for a moment say that this thing can be permitted to go on without danger to the peace, to the law, to the good order and stability of society itself. It is because this thing has grown now to gigantic dimensions of danger—not a danger in which we need have any fear of an invasion—not that danger which has been in such puerile terms alluded to, but the danger of a poison— running through the veins of society, poisoning the very health of our social life—it is that danger that we have to confront;


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all the more deadly for its being so subtle, so unseen, and so little demonstrable to the ordinary observer. It is against this danger that we are called upon at the present time to legislate. You tell me about obedience to the law; you tell me that because I occupy the great place which I am permitted to occupy in this country, that I am to set an example of obedience to the law. I say, in reply, that there is one law which overrides all others, and that is the law of preserving the peace and welfare of civil society. Would you talk about a technical observance of the law if a plague was stalking in our midst—if a pestilence was sweeping off our population—if a famine was reducing the members of our households to skeletons? Why, a Government that stood in fear for the technical observance of the law in any such case as that would be swept away, and deservedly swept away. We rise above any such considerations at the present time, in staying the growth of a disastrous seed-plot which, if left alone, would soon ripen in the dismemberment of society. And what justification is there for the strong feeling which I am quite sure at the present time pervades all classes? We have in this country, as in all others, the working-class. The man does not live who ever heard me pander to the working-class. I have passed through some thirty-five contested elections, and I never won a single vote by pandering to any class. Well, we have the working-class in the country, great by its apparent and undeniable virtues. I do not believe that at this moment there is any class in society of more value, of higher character, with a more lively sense of social and personal obligations, than the better portion of the mechanics of New South Wales. Most of those men are married, and have families; many of them have freehold homes, which even in bad times they struggle to preserve. Can it be surprising to any of us that the mothers of those families, during a period of depression such as that which has passed over the country of late, look with something like aversion—with even stronger antipathy— towards the Chinaman, who is a direct competitor with their husbands—the fathers of their children—and with the future of their households? Is it to be wondered that the mother, who is


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suffering from her husband's want of employment, possibly from her son's want of employment, who sees her little ones deprived of many comforts which otherwise they would enjoy, should cherish, encourage, and cultivate a feeling of hostility to the persons who come in direct competition with the bread-winners of her household for the daily food of the family? Although I may not say anything to encourage it, I can well sympathise with the aversion that grows up in the most influential and most valuable portion of our working-class towards those people. But that is not all. Is it a safe, a wise, or a tolerable thing for us to have nearly 60,000—I mean in all the colonies—of these men, belonging to an alien race, out of tone with us in faith, in law, in traditions, in everything that endears life—to have 60,000 of these men, with no natural companions, in the midst of society? Must not that be a thing to be deprecated, to be lamented, to be resisted by every man who wishes well to the social fabric of this new country? I may be fairly pardoned if my sympathies go out a long way to meet the feelings of that large class of our people without whom society could not exist for a day. It was said by Sir Robert Peel that the great working-class was the foundation of every other class, and what was said by him was so true that no man who has succeeded him could deny it. Without this great mass of human beings, who form the foundation of society, society itself could not exist. They are really the blood, the bone, the sinew, the mind, and the spirit of the social fabric. Having stated my case so far as the social elements affect this question, I shall proceed in as calm a way as I can to trace the history of late events, which have led up to the present action on the part of the Government. On December 12 last the Chinese Minister, resident at the Court of St. James, addressed a note to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who happens to be the Prime Minister of England. It is not always the case in the constitution of English Governments that the same Minister holds the position of leader of the Government and also that of Foreign Secretary; but, at the present time, the Marquis of Salisbury is not only Prime Minister, but also Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.


  ― 214 ―
In this note, to which I have called attention on other occasions as being a singularly able paper—I do not think, so far as I can judge, that I ever read a diplomatic paper more astutely worded than this note of the Chinese Minister—in this paper the Chinese Minister in London calls the attention of the British Government to what the Australian colonies are doing, and he evidently calls the attention of the Prime Minister to our proceedings with some kind of a confused view that we are in the capacity of school children, and can be called to account by the Prime Minister of England. His words are these:

‘The Imperial Government sees with regret the continued existence of the exceptional and exceptionable laws which some of the colonial legislatures of Australia and the Dominion have at different times enacted against Chinese subjects, and hopes that, with a view to the elimination of any part of them which may be found to be at variance with treaty obligations and international usage, Her Majesty's Government will be pleased to institute an enquiry into their nature, and how far they are compatible with the increasing growth of the friendly relations which now happily exist between the two countries.’

No complaint can be made, and last of all should I be to make any complaint, of the Chinese Minister faithfully representing his Government at the British Court; but he clearly was under the impression that he had only to make these representations to have the matters of which he complained put right. That would hardly be worth my while to notice, if it were not for the great fact that lies beneath and beyond it, and so much above it as to affect the whole tenor of this diplomatic note— what I have on another occasion described as the awakening of the Chinese Empire. It clearly proves an inclination to assert the rights of China on a level with other civilised nations; and I confess at once that I think the time will come, and that probably very shortly, when they will succeed. It will be observed, then, that I do not by any means concur in some views which I have heard expressed here to-night. I do not agree with any of those persons who think that China is an inferior Power, with


  ― 215 ―
whom we can trifle. I think nothing of the kind. I think that with her large territory, with a population which exceeds one-third of the whole population of the world, China has only to learn the lessons which are taught on every hand—and which she appears to be doing—to win an honoured place in the community of nations. I, then, neither despise the individual character of the Chinese, nor underrate the majesty of the power of China; and it is for these very reasons, and because I believe that China is fast becoming a great Power; because I believe her people are endowed with great though homely virtues—the virtues of industry, of provident care, of foresight, of unmatched patience, and vast powers of endurance; it is that I believe in all these things that I do not wish to see the Chinese element increasing in our midst. I wish to dwell particularly on the circumstances which followed the reception of this note from the Chinese Minister, because I think they have been greatly misunderstood in this country. Lord Salisbury caused a request to be made to the Colonial Office to obtain for him certain information to enable him, which means the British Government, to deal with the Chinese Minister's note; and in this matter the Secretary of State for the Colonies has only been used as a medium by which the Prime Minister's desires were made known to the Colonial Governments. I dwell upon this because I see it continually noted that Lord Knutsford does this, and Lord Knutsford does that. This question does not belong to the Secretary of State for the Colonies at all. It belongs to the English Government, and the chief actor is the Prime Minister of England, who is at the same time Foreign Minister. The communication made to us was from him; the information sought is for him, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies is only a medium in the regularity of business by which these communications are made. Well, this note was received, as I have pointed out, by the British Government on December 12. No communication was made to the colonies until January 23; then, for the first time, we were asked for information. Now, it will be remembered that this Government, after some communications of an irregular character with neighbouring Governments,


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and after consulting among ourselves, sent a telegraphic message on our own account through his Excellency the Governor in reply to this communication from Lord Salisbury. This communication of ours was dated March 31; and up to this time I have never heard of any person who has taken serious exception to the character and completeness of our communication; on the contrary, our opponents have more than once, on several occasions, complimented us on the character of this message. I think myself, without taking to ourselves any of the compliments paid to us, that we stated the case fairly and fully, and with sufficient emphasis of language. I must now, at this point, call attention to one or two passages in this message of ours of March 31. We put forth our claim to be considered in the exercise of treaty rights in these words: ‘As these colonies form an important part of the Empire, it is submitted that our cause of contention is of sufficient national concern to be taken up by the Empire; if we have no voice in the making of treaties, it seems only just that our interests should be considered and protected by those who exercise that power.’

I maintain for the Government of which I am a member, that in these few words we stated on solid ground the claim of these colonies to be considered in the exercise of the treaty rights of the Empire, and I believe that we made good the ground of our contention. A little further on, towards the conclusion, after having stated as concisely, as clearly, and as emphatically as we could the difference between the impingement of the Chinese question on us and on British people resident within the United Kingdom, we use these words:—‘It is respectfully submitted that the examination of these principal phases of the question can only lead to one conclusion, namely, that the Chinese must be restricted from emigrating to any part of Australasia.’

That is surely clear and precise, as it is unquestionably emphatic and concise. We proceed:—‘It will be seen that, while the question scarcely touches the people of the United Kingdom, it vitally concerns these great colonies, whose importance in their political and commercial relations entitles them to


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be protected by the diplomatic influence and the powers of treaty which belong to the Empire.’

Then we go on to say:—‘With renewed expressions of our loyal attachment to Her Majesty, we urge that immediate steps be taken to open such negotiations with the Emperor of China as will result in permanent security to the Australian colonies from the disturbance of Chinese immigration in any form. The matter is too grave and urgent to admit of long delay.’

Then we conclude in these words:—‘However desirable it may be to avoid the irritation and conflict of interests which may arise from local legislation of a drastic character, if protection cannot be afforded as now sought, the Australian Parliaments must act from the force of public opinion in devising measures to defend the colonies from consequences which they cannot relax in their efforts to avert.’

We stated our case, as I contend, fully, fairly, and truthfully. We stated our case in the highest sense in the interests of this people. We put forth our case in the interests of preserving the integrity of the union of the Empire. Well, what was the result? We certainly were not so foolish or simple as to expect a satisfactory reply at once, or even in a month or two months; but we did expect, after stating in this earnest and urgent manner the danger of our cause, the courtesy of some acknowledgment. Well, things went on until April 26, or twenty-six days after our message was sent, when at my instance his Excellency the Governor sent a message in his own name, reminding the imperial authorities that we had received no answer, and stating that all kinds of statements were being made on the spot, some to the effect that the English Government had decided not to interfere; that public feeling was very strong on this question, and that in the interests of peace and good order, and of the preservation of society itself, it was necessary that it should receive attention. This message elicited no response either. From April 26, the date of our reminder, until May 12, we received no communication whatever; but by this time it was announced in various ways that inconveniences were arising in the colonies; that in the sister colony of


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Victoria the Government had taken the step of refusing to allow the Chinese to land; that these had left that port, and had come on to Sydney. These and various other statements appeared in the European world. The owners of the ships who were thus interfered with obtained audience of the Secretary of State; even merchants in China, who care nothing about these colonies, I presume, so long as their interests are served, had begun to complain of our action. Then we received from the Secretary of State this message, which, if it had come from any other quarter, would have been set down as a mean method of excusing procrastination, negligence, and unwarranted delay. This is the message:—‘Referring to your telegram of April 26, no foundation for report that Her Majesty's Government refuse negotiations with Chinese Government. Negotiations being carefully considered. Her Majesty's Government fully recognise strength of feeling.’

I say that if the same kind of treatment for this long time had been inflicted on any private person, and then a message of this character were received, it would be held as a specious device to cover culpable negligence of the interests at stake. I wish to say a word or two on the treatment which we received from Her Majesty's Imperial Government. I do not know how any set of men could use more temperate language to make their grievance known; I do not know how within the limits of propriety we could employ English words more clearly to express the urgency of our complaint. Notwithstanding that, we are treated as if the wisest course was to let us alone and the excitement would die out, and there would be no need for anything to be done at all. I venture to say that a few other masterful displays of indifference like this on the part of the Secretary of State would do more than much more serious occurrences to sap the loyalty of these great countries. We can bear remonstrance, we can meet argument, we can make good our case against the world; but we cannot patiently stand to be treated with the frozen indifference of persons who consider some petty quarrel in a petty state of more importance than the gigantic interests of these magnificent colonies. I say this with


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the most earnest desire to preserve the integrity of the Empire, with as loyal a feeling to Her Majesty the Queen as any other man amongst her subjects; but we must be loyal to ourselves— we must be loyal to the Constitution under which we live; and the only way in which we can be true to ourselves as Her Majesty's free subjects is to show that we have a lively appreciation of the great liberties—the great privileges—which we possess, and which we will never forfeit or suffer to be impaired. Now I am brought to the immediate events which have preceded the present action of the Government in appealing to Parliament. Every person who has regarded our course of conduct with anything like candour and a spirit of fair play, must have known that, if we could obtain no redress where we thought that we ought to have obtained it, we should about this time make the appeal which we are now making. It is not that we have neglected this question. It is simply that in fulfilling the first process of our action, we have waited a reasonable time for some courteous acknowledgment of our urgent appeal to be made by the Imperial Government. We could not have acted sooner; we could not have acted a minute sooner. We have waited until there has been not only time for telegraphic communication, but also time for communication by the regular course of post. Getting no satisfaction whatever, we began to feel, as well we might—and I venture to think we should be unworthy of your confidence if we felt less indignant—we began to feel that we had been treated in a most unworthy manner. We do not represent insignificant communities; we represent great, free colonies, which are fast approaching the threshold of national existence. We represent interests too colossal to be passed over in a flippant, or an unsatisfactory manner; and we should have been unworthy of our post if we had not felt the slight, not offered to us, but through us, the constituted authority, to you, the representatives of the people, and behind you, to the free people of this great colony. Well, in the meantime, what occurs? Ship after ship arrives in this port with Chinese passengers. A day or so before the arrival of the first ship, two large meetings of citizens were held in and near the Town


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Hall; one inside, and the other outside the Town Hall. A large, irregular, and disorderly crowd of persons numbering, I believe, some 5,000 or 6,000, headed by the chief magistrate of the city, arrived at Parliament House, and as some honourable gentlemen observed to-night, it is almost by a miracle they did not invade this place, and drive you from your seats. Are we to have a recurrence of such proceedings as those? Some honourable gentleman to-night—I think it was the honourable member for Wollombi—said that the police were blamable for this great outrage on the Parliament of the country. I am satisfied that the police were not to blame. In justice to that body, and in vindication of their character and efficiency, if I may be permitted, I desire to say that it was to the police a complete surprise, such as may occur anywhere under any circumstances in any country. The police had no reason to apprehend any such gathering at such a time—and especially it was incredible to them that the chief magistrate of the city would be at the head of such a body—and for that reason, and that reason alone, there was not a sufficient force to meet the emergency. If there had been any reason whatever to have apprehended such an occurrence, and I am satisfied there was none, there could have been a power here that would have prevented it—and if any attempt of the kind should be made in the future, there will be a power to render it impossible; for I do not believe the police were to blame in any way whatever. It was one of those surprises which will occur under the best discipline and the best regulation, and which cannot be guarded against. Now, one of the reasons, as I stated in the commencement of my observations, for the introduction of the Bill is to put an end to these disturbing and most poisonous agitations. If this could take place, which did occur only a night or two before the arrival of the steamship Afghan —if this could occur in this well-ordered city, and under the presidency of the Mayor, the chief magistrate of the city, what is likely to occur in the remote thickly-populated districts such as populous goldfields, where there are not the same means of preserving order, where there are not the same influences in favour of order at work, where the distances between the


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agencies of authority are much greater, where the means of concentrating force to quell disturbance are much more difficult—if it could occur in this great metropolis, what guarantee have we got that every centre of a thick population would not be distracted by disorderly and tumultuous assemblages of this kind? And so long as this question of Chinese immigration is allowed to rankle in the hotbed of every ill-formed and ill-informed passion—so long as that is permitted, there is food to feed inflammatory speeches and the mischievous dispositions of the worst class of persons who seek to lead the unthinking multitude. And if for nothing else than to stop this source of fuel for feeding these inflammatory influences, in the highest interests of society, in the highest interests of preserving law, obedience to authority, and the promotion of peace amongst us, the thing must and ought to be stopped. And it is in that view that we think we are bound to do all in our power to bring this cause of contention amongst us, which bears such a plentiful harvest of ill-fruit, and which cannot bear any good fruit for us, to an end once and for ever. Now, if any person supposes that we have acted thoughtlessly or hurriedly, or without due regard to all the consequences, he is woefully mistaken. In this crisis of the Chinese question, and it is a crisis, we have acted calmly, with a desire to see clearly the way before us; but at the same time we have acted with decision, and we do not mean to turn back. Neither for Her Majesty's ships of war, nor for Her Majesty's representative on the spot, nor for the Secretary of State for the Colonies, do we intend to turn aside from our purpose, which is to terminate the landing of Chinese on these shores for ever, except under the restrictions imposed by the Bill, which will amount, and which are intended to amount, to practical prohibition. Now in what position do I stand in regard to this question? When the Mayor of Sydney pressed upon me to receive at Parliament House a deputation from that disorderly multitude, I refused to receive it. The request was modified, and I was asked at last if I would receive a deputation consisting of the Mayor and one or two other persons. My answer was that, with every respect for the Mayor and his high position,


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I could not recognise the disorderly proceedings which he countenanced by receiving him at that place; but when he wrote to me a respectful request, under his own name, as Mayor of the city, to know what the Government would do on the arrival of the Afghan with these Chinese passengers, I replied to him in writing that they would not be allowed to land. I have said sufficient to show my condemnation of the course he pursued; but, still, he was the chief magistrate of the metropolis of this country, and he was a very proper medium through which I might speak to the people of the country; and I consider that I have given, through the Mayor of this city, a written pledge to the people of New South Wales that these Chinese passengers shall not land. And, so far as I am concerned, I cast to the wind your permits of exemption. I care nothing about your cobweb of technical law; I am obeying a law far superior to any law which issued these permits, namely, the law of the preservation of society in New South Wales. So far as I have means, against every power that can be brought against me, I will carry out my pledge given on that night in writing to the free people of this country, and not allow these men to land.

Now, what has been the conduct of the owners or agents of these ships? We have in the port at this moment, I believe, four ships freighted with Chinese passengers. We have the Afghan, the Tsinan, the Guthrie, and the Menmuir; I am not sure whether the last ship is in or not.

Mr. DALTON: She is at the wharf!

Sir HENRY PARKES: It does not matter. On board these vessels there are not 47, but considerably over 300 Chinese.

Mr. GARRETT: 600, with the two last ships!

Sir HENRY PARKES: And a portion of these are the men who were refused a landing in Melbourne. But what did the owners of the ships do? I am bound to say that they have acted, as far as I know, in the most commendable way from the first. The owners of the Afghan voluntarily wrote to me offering to carry back the whole of these people.

Mr. DIBBS: If you did not fine them. That was the condition!

Sir HENRY PARKES: There was no condition of the sort. I


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may as well state that I assured these gentlemen that the Government were not desirous of subjecting them to any inconvenience whatever that could be avoided. I assured them that while we were determined to carry out our decision in respect to their passengers, we had no desire to injure the ships or their owners, or to put them to any inconvenience, and they offered to carry back the passengers to China on the condition that those who had no proper permits, or who in other words were fraudulently on board the ship, should be carried back at the expense of the ship, and that those who had proper permits should be carried back at the expense of the colony, which I thought was an extremely fair and handsome proposal. The owners of the Tsinan went a little further, and offered that if we would be at the cost of conveying their Melbourne cargo by a coasting steamer to that port they would carry back, not only the passengers for Sydney, but the passengers for Melbourne. I communicated with the Government of Victoria, and they agreed to pay the cost of conveying the Melbourne cargo by coasting steamer to that port, and the offer on the part of the owners is to carry the whole of their passengers back to Hongkong. It is not a condition laid upon them by this Government; but we have their written offer, and I should like to know whether that is not to a large extent, a fair ground of justification for the step we have taken? I now come to the Bill. It proceeds to a large extent on the principles of the existing law. The provision for imposing a tax on the arrival of Chinese; the provision for limiting the number to be carried to the tonnage of the ship; the provision for imposing penalties; the provision prescribing the means by which those penalties are to be recovered, are all on the lines of the present law. If the principle is admitted of imposing a poll-tax of 10l., I assume that no gentleman here will contend that the principle is affected by the tax being 50l. or 100l. The principle is in its nature precisely the same, except that it is applied in a way in which it operates more effectually. So that the principle of the Bill in all these clauses is exactly the principle of the present law. I now come to the new clauses of the Bill which distinguish it from the existing law. By the treaty executed between Her Majesty's


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Government and the Government of the Emperor of China, and signed on August 29, 1848, it is by Article 2 provided that British subjects shall be entitled to reside in a prescribed area at five cities in China, and that in those cities they shall be allowed to reside for the purpose of carrying on their mercantile pursuits without molestation or restraint. Now if honourable gentlemen will turn to the 11th clause of the Bill, they will see that it is in the very language of the treaty executed between Her Britannic Majesty and the Emperor of China:—‘The Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, may by proclamation in the Gazette set apart a defined area where Chinese arriving in this colony, after the passing of this Act, with their families and establishments, shall be allowed to reside for the purpose of carrying on their mercantile pursuits without molestation or restraint at the cities of Sydney and Newcastle, and such other places (not being more than five) as the Governor with the advice aforesaid may appoint.

So that it will be seen that we are more liberal to Chinese subjects than the Treaty is to British subjects; for while in a population of 400,000,000 Chinese, British subjects can reside at only five cities—I think seven is the number now, by subsequent Treaties—we are going to permit the Chinese to reside possibly at five cities in our limited population; and all I can say is much good may they do there. Well, by these Treaties no British subject can travel in China without a passport to cover his liberty. We are going to do exactly the same. We provide in the following clause that ‘no Chinese who shall arrive in this colony after the passing of this Act shall be permitted to reside at or trade with any place or part of the colony, except as prescribed by last preceding section, and no such Chinese shall be permitted to travel in the interior without a passport.’

So that exactly what is done to us in China we do to Chinese in Australia, except that we do it with a more liberal hand, and I cannot see how any Treaty obligation can be violated, so long as we extend to our respected brethren from the Chinese Empire precisely the same class of rights which they


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extend to us. What is good for the British goose is good for the Chinese gander. The only provision that can press in any inconvenient way upon the Chinese residents in the country, is the provision requiring them to take out a licence, for which they are to pay a fee, which the committee may fix at any sum they like. We do not pretend to interfere with the liberties of any of the Chinese residents amongst us up to the present time; but we do consider it expedient in the public interest to require them to register their place of abode, and their names, and to take out a licence, so that we may know who they are and where they are. But with that one very rational and justifiable restriction, they are free to go where they like—to indulge in what pursuits they like—with one exception, which I shall allude to presently—and they are free to enjoy all the rights and privileges which we ourselves enjoy. I would be no party to legislation which would place disabilities beyond what I have indicated upon the Chinese population now in the country; but in regard to those Chinese who may arrive after the passing of this Bill—if it passes into law—they must enjoy the rights of residence just to the extent that the rights of residence are permitted to British subjects in China, and no further. So that under this law—supposing the Bill to pass into law, and I do not doubt that it will—there will be two classes of Chinamen in this country: those who arrived before the passing of the Act, and who will not be interfered with, except that they will be required to take out a licence, and to register their names and places of abode; and those who arrive after the passing of the Act, whose residence will be restricted to limited areas, and who will not be permitted to wander all over the country. There is another provision in the Bill which is justified by the laws of China. The Chinese are not to engage in mining. British subjects are not allowed to engage in mining in China, and following that example, and extending to Chinese subjects the same rights, we forbid them to engage in mining pursuits in this country. These are the leading provisions of the Bill, and I maintain in the face of this great gathering of honourable men, that it is a fair and just, though somewhat


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drastic, measure for settling this question in the interests of this young nation, and settling it on the grounds of reason and enlightened policy, and in the interests of preserving the freedom and the great privileges which we enjoy. I have said before, and repeat now, that we are fully justified in everything that we have done. Our first object is to serve the people of New South Wales, and in this high service to preserve not only their liberties, but to preserve to them the peace, the law, the order, the safety of society. If this cause of tumult were to continue, those high conditions of the free people of this country could not be conserved. We have taken the steps we have to preserve to this people their great inheritance of freedom and security; and if in doing that we have infringed any law, I say that this House is bound in honour to indemnify us, because, in infringing the law, we have obeyed the higher law of conserving society and the best interests of this people. We appeal with confidence to have our conduct justified, and ourselves, collectively and individually, indemnified for the strong steps we have felt bound to take. And I appeal to gentlemen in all quarters of this House—I appeal to every section of my fellow-countrymen throughout the land—to support us in this effort to terminate a moral and social pestilence, and to preserve to ourselves and our children, unaltered and unspotted, the rights and privileges which we have received from our forefathers.

When the Bill went into committee, a few members, led by Mr. Dibbs, did their utmost to defeat it by mangling its provisions. Mr. Dibbs himself at once moved an amendment in these words:—‘From and after the 1st day of June next it shall not be lawful for any subject of China to land from any vessel, or to enter any part of the colony.’ Of course a provision of this kind, if embodied in the Bill, would render the Royal assent impossible, and in his clumsy adroitness, Mr. Dibbs conceived that it would at the same time


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show to the unthinking that he was in earnest, and that the Government were not in earnest. The real friends of the Bill saw through this thinly-disguised attempt, and treated it accordingly. Mr. Dibbs then gave full vent to his spleen; the following are a few samples from his armoury of invective:—‘The Government had acted in a worse form than any bush-ranger who had ever scoured the roads of New South Wales;’ ‘the Government had exercised its power in a brutal manner on a harmless lot of people;’ in reference to myself, the working classes ‘would curse him living and dead for having outraged the country.’

The Bill was reported and passed through its remaining stages, and the House adjourned at fifteen minutes past seven o'clock on the morning of the 17th, having sat nearly twenty-seven hours.

In the Legislative Council the Bill received a difference of treatment which clearly marked the difference between a nominee and an elective Chamber—between men who hold their seats for life with no responsibility, and men who hold their seats for three years, directly responsible to the electors. The provisions relating to Chinese resident in the colony were struck out, but the Bill passed with its stringent clauses against future Chinese immigration. It is now the law, and has worked with complete success in stopping the influx of Chinese.

My speech on moving the second reading received much attention. It elicited strong expressions of approval, and it was made the subject of adverse comment in many quarters, and it even called forth an


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enquiry from the late Sir George Campbell in the House of Commons. On May 21, 1888, I wrote the following introduction to my speech. I quote it here as the vindication of my conduct which I put forth at the time:—

‘This speech is copied, with very few verbal corrections, from the admirable reports published by authority, under the popular but somewhat loose designation of Hansard. In some quarters the speech has been received with a kind of criticism which I venture to say has been neither accurate nor just; and small consideration has been shown for the complicated difficulties which beset the question under treatment. If the colony could be relieved of the Chinese affliction by stilted phrases, slovenly dealing with facts, and unwarranted abuse of other men's motives, some of my critics in both Houses of Parliament and elsewhere are eminently qualified to settle the question.

‘I, however, have neither time nor inclination to offer any reply to these critics. The position which I and my colleagues have taken up is plain and visible to the people of New South Wales; and we look to our country for our vindication.

‘I wish to notice three points in the controversy, if controversy it may be called; but in noticing these only, I must claim to be understood as not admitting the correctness of several others.

‘(1) It is not true that I ever used language to show that I expected a reply in forty-five days from the Imperial Government to the telegraphic message sent from here on March 31. I complained of receiving no acknowledgment whatever. My words were:—




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‘We put forth our case in the interests of preserving the integrity of the union of the Empire. Well, what was the result? We certainly were not so foolish or simple as to expect a satisfactory reply at once, or even in a month or two months; but we did expect, after stating in this earnest and urgent manner the danger of our cause, the courtesy of some acknowledgment.

‘(2) It seems to me something like insolence for men, who have not had to face our trial, to accuse the members of the Government of acting from panic, and of pandering to the multitude, when our course of patient and self-restraining action for many months past is before them, and when I have expressly for myself and colleagues disclaimed any such action. My opening words in the speech of the 16th were:—

‘I disclaim any attitude of even aversion to the Chinese people settled in this country; and I disclaim any possible action on the part of the Government in deference to public agitations out of doors. I am convinced in my conscience that neither have we at any time joined with those who have derided, and, as I think, traduced, the Chinese residents in this country; nor have we at any time yielded to the pressure of popular agitation.

‘(3) I feel that I need not say a word in vindication of my loyalty to my Sovereign and to the Empire. The proofs of my devoted attachment to both are interwoven with my whole public life. But my loyalty would never lead me to prostrate myself before men, however lofty their station in the Queen's service, who are still only subjects of the Queen like myself, and it would


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lead me by an overmastering obligation to do my utmost to protect from injury, neglect, or slight the great province of the Empire for the good government of which I, in common with my colleagues, am directly responsible. My first duty in the high office I hold is to serve New South Wales, and at the present moment I believe that this service, faithfully performed, demands of me “at all hazards” to preserve the soil of the country from the presence of Chinese. With a genuine feeling of loyalty to Her Majesty and her Imperial Government, I hold it to be a sacred doctrine that no Imperial Minister has any constitutional right to interfere with us in working out our system of self-government, and that under this system the right of self-preservation from a great threatening evil is one of the highest of our inalienable rights and liberties. In our national trouble we sought aid at the seat of the Empire, and we failed even to receive an acknowledgement of our appeal. And it must be recollected that some of the parties with whom we had to deal talked loudly of appealing, and did actually appeal, to the Admiral on the station. It was in view of all this that I used the words on the 16th:—

‘Now, if any person supposes that we have acted thoughtlessly or hurriedly, or without due regard to all the consequences, he is woefully mistaken. In this crisis of the Chinese question, and it is a crisis, we have acted calmly, with a desire to see clearly the way before us; but at the same time we have acted with decision, and we do not mean to turn back. Neither for Her Majesty's ships of war, nor for Her Majesty's representative


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on the spot, nor for the Secretary of State for the Colonies, do we intend to turn aside from our purpose, which is to terminate the landing of Chinese on these shores for ever, except under the restrictions imposed by the Bill, which will amount, and which are intended to amount, to practical prohibition.

‘It is a noteworthy fact, that although the Government had been acting “illegally” for nearly a fortnight, in refusing to allow the Chinese to land, no virtuous member of Parliament said a word until our Bill was brought in on the 16th, and it was thought that there was a chance, not of serving the Chinese or of protecting the country, but of twisting our conduct in a time of extreme difficulty to a mean party advantage. I had previously offered for three members of the Government to confer with three members of the Opposition, with a view to agreeing upon a basis for legislation to secure unanimity, the question being considered a non-political one; but this was declined, no doubt with the hope of some chance turning up in favour of high-minded party ends.’

Among other measures of the Session 1887–8, the Attorney-General (Mr. B. R. Wise) introduced a Bill to remodel and consolidate the law of bankruptcy. The Bill became law and is giving general satisfaction.

Another measure which gave rise to strong dissent from a minority in Parliament, was a Bill to provide for the establishment and maintenance of an additional naval force to be employed for the protection of the floating trade in Australasian waters. Bills of like character were introduced by the Government of the


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other Australian colonies, pursuant to an agreement arrived at by the Imperial Conference in London. That agreement was appended as a schedule to each of these Bills, and its scope and object may be gathered from the first four articles, which follow:—

The Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c., and the Governments of Her Majesty's colonies of New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, New Zealand, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia, having recognised the necessity of increasing the naval force for the protection of the floating trade in Australasian waters at their joint charge, have resolved to conclude for this purpose an agreement as follows:

ARTICLE I.

There shall be established a force of sea-going ships of war, hereinafter referred to as ‘these vessels,’ to be provided, equipped, manned, and maintained at the joint cost of Imperial and Colonial funds.

ARTICLE II.

These vessels shall be placed in every respect on the same status as Her Majesty's ships of war, whether in commission or not.

ARTICLE III.

The officers and men of such of these vessels as are in commission shall be changed triennially, and of those in reserve as may be considered advisable.




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ARTICLE IV.

These vessels shall be under the sole control and orders of the Naval Commander-in-Chief for the time being appointed to command Her Majesty's ships and vessels on the Australian station.

These vessels shall be retained within the limits of the Australian station, as defined in the standing orders of the Naval Commander-in-Chief, and in times of peace or war shall be employed within such limits in the same way as are Her Majesty's ships of war, or employed beyond those limits only with the consent of the Colonial Governments.

I moved the second reading of the Bill on November 24, 1887. The debate was protracted over two nights, and some animated speeches were delivered, the little party in opposition to the Bill being composed of members from both sides of the House. The principal grounds of opposition were, that the Bill committed the colony to the quarrels of the old world, and that it brought the people under payment of ‘tribute’ to the power of England. It was further objected that the colony had no voice in the command of the fleet in the maintenance of which it was called upon to pay its share. As the naval arm of defence is the most valuable to the colonies, which are not in a position to create, and hitherto have shown no disposition to undertake, the vast expense of creating a fleet of their own, these facts alone would seem to be a sufficient reply. However, an amendment was moved that the Bill be


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read the second time that day six months. This was defeated by forty-one votes to nine, and, thereupon, the second reading was carried by a similar division. An unusual incident followed; the members, who had been in the House all night, rose to their feet as the daylight streamed in through the windows, and gave three cheers for Australia, and three cheers for Old England.

Besides these great Acts of Parliament—reducing the Customs tariff to simple proportions on the basis of Free-trade, creating an entirely new authority for protecting the people in large expenditures for public works, placing the State railways under a system of non-political and competent management, dealing effectually with the Chinese difficulty,—a large number of other useful measures were passed into law. The Ministry, which had held office for eighteen months when Parliament was prorogued on July 24, 1888, could point to as fair an array of important legislative measures as any Ministry that ever existed in New South Wales.




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9. CHAPTER IX

SHORT SESSION—FINANCIAL CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY—FACTIOUS ADJOURNMENTS—AUCTION SALES OF CROWN LANDS—MY EXPLANATION AND DEFENCE—PAST AND PRESENT GOVERNORS—ADDRESS TO THE QUEEN—MY SPEECH IN SUPPORT OF IT—UNANIMOUSLY AGREED TO—ANOTHER MOTION OF CENSURE—MAJORITY FOR THE GOVERNMENT—DEFEATED BY OUR OWN FRIENDS—RESIGNATION

PARLIAMENT was opened for the necessary business of 1888 on October 23. After the heavy labours of the last previous Session, it was intimated that it was ‘not intended to enter upon the discussion of any large measures during the Session.’ The object of the Government, which appeared to be generally approved, was to place before Parliament the yearly exposition of the finances, to make provision for the public service, and to leave large debatable questions for the Session of 1889.

The Treasurer (Mr. J. F. Burns) made his financial statement on the 31st. In reference to the progress of the colony he showed, from figures supplied by the Statistical Department, that the increase of population by the excess of arrivals over departures in the several Australasian colonies within a given period was 606,000 souls, and that 259,000 of this number fell to the lot of New South Wales. He estimated the expenditure


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for the year, two months only of which had to expire, at 8,719,698l., and the revenue at 9,040,368l. The increase of revenue was shown in nearly every department, which was gratifying as a commentary on our Free-trade legislation. In reply to the taunt that the Government lived upon land sales, Mr. Burns showed that, although the Government had power under the Act of 1883 to sell 200,000 acres of the public lands within a year, they had not in fact sold more than 107,374 acres, amounting in value to 139,602l., while they had expended from 600,000l. to 700,000l. on roads and bridges.

This was a statement which could not be other than satisfactory to our friends as well as to ourselves and to the general public, after our successful legislation in the fields of tariff reform, public works reform, railway reform, and improved National Defence.

Among the plans of operation of some Oppositions which have had existence in New South Wales may be noted the plan of moving the adjournment of the House, and getting up a debate in which to introduce all manner of subjects, the more irrelevant the better. Two purposes were served by this praiseworthy proceeding—attacks could be made which, as a rule, could not be answered, and the time at the disposal of Government for the work of the day could be irredeemably wasted. This glaring abuse has been largely checked of late years by a standing order, introduced at my instance, which requires the mover to state the subject of the motion of adjournment in writing, compels adherence to the subject in debate, and limits the


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time—the mover to one hour, and other members to twenty minutes each. Early in the Session the adjournment was moved to make charges against the Government of having sold the public lands by auction for the purposes of revenue. This was an old charge, which had often been made for party ends on the most extravagant and reckless statements. On this occasion I repelled the attack, and defended the Government and myself in the following speech:—

I must confess that I am at a loss to know why this debate is introduced at all. Certainly, the slender peg on which it was held did not justify such a course as this. On the first night of our meeting it appeared to me that a most disingenuous attempt was made to hold me up as a promoter of auction sales. It appeared to me an attempt which was disingenuous in the extreme; but I did not care to take up the time of the House in explaining my position in that matter; and it appeared to me the simplest and the shortest way to write to the able man who was the permanent officer in the Land Department, to ascertain whether my recollection was correct, that I never took any step whatever towards promoting auction sales when I was in charge of the Lands Department. When I got the reply to that letter I still did not presume to occupy the time of this House in a matter simply affecting my reputation, and I merely handed the correspondence to the newspapers for what it was worth, without word or comment. I did this because, though what had been stated materially misrepresented me, and, if not purposely, wantonly misrepresented me, still I did not consider that my position was of sufficient importance to bring it before this Assembly. Now, during this discussion, the old form of abuse has been resorted to, of fixing upon this Government a desire to alienate the public estate, because, say these traducers, the former Parkes Government did something or another. How


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can this Government be responsible for what the Government did of which I was member some years ago, and which, if we are to believe these gentlemen, was so signally punished, which was so crushed in the elections, though, as a matter of fact, the truth is that, if we had stood our ground and challenged a division, we should not have been beaten beyond five or six votes? The crash, of which so much is said, was so great that we should not have been driven from our seats by a majority of more than five or six votes even at that time. That is well ascertained; but still constant allusion is made to that time, and made to it most unnecessarily. Now, let us see whether the Parkes Government, which existed from the end of 1878 to the beginning of 1883, were promoters in any marked manner of these auction sales. Notoriously they were not; notoriously they did nothing whatever to stimulate the alienation of the public estate by public auction. As has been explained before, the system of alienating the public land by auction had existed from the very outset of Responsible Government, and long before that epoch. When Responsible Government was introduced, no attempt whatever was made to stop this mode of alienation, and Government after Government went on, that being one of the chief modes by which land was alienated. Theoretically, the offering of property by public auction is about the fairest way in the world; and I suppose it was because the principle of fairness is admitted so universally in auction sales that this policy went on with that system of sale. I have taken the volumes which we have on our shelves, labelled ‘finance,’ for several years, while this debate has been proceeding, to see what was the course pursued for many years in alienating the land by public auction. Let it be borne in mind that, if you are to judge of the significance of figures in this mode of parting with portions of the public estate, you must consider them constantly in connection with the increase of population. Land, I presume, can only be sold on any ground of justification to supply the wants of the population. If that is admitted, and admitted it must be, it is natural that, as the population increased, so should the area of land disposed of increase to keep


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pace with settlement. The Parkes Administration, to which this unnecessary reference is continually made, came into office during the last days of 1878; I think it was on December 21, 1878. They remained in office through 1879, through 1880, through 1881, through 1882, that is, through four complete years, and a few days of the preceding year and of the succeeding year. The population of course steadily increased during these four years. Let us see now from the public records which I have just consulted, and which you all can consult, whether this charge against us is so well founded that it can be justified in being repeated once. In 1875 the amount taken for the sale of public lands was 1,019,052l.; in 1876 the amount of auction sales was 1,548,888l.; in 1877 it increased to 1,967,057l. During these three years, I know, Sir Alexander Stuart was in office as Colonial Treasurer for a considerable time; I do not remember at this moment in what portion of the three years. In 1878, when Mr. Farnell and Mr. Fitzpatrick were in office, the sales by auction amounted to 1,061,670l., showing a decline of nearly 900,000l. In 1879, the first year in which I was in office, the sales by auction fell to 698,000l., or less than half what they stood at in 1877, though the population had increased by 100,000 souls. In 1880, the second year in which I was in office, the amount of sales by public auction again declined to 437,964l., or not onethird—a little more than a fourth—of what they were in 1877. In 1881 the amount of auction sales was 566,404l. Now, I was interrupted, and had not time to get the figures for the other year, that is, the last year of my being in office; but what I have adduced is sufficient to show how utterly unsupported by facts, how utterly wild, is the accusation that we stimulated sales by auction. We took over a system that had existed from the very foundation of Responsible Government, which had been maintained from the very early records of the colony, and so far from our stimulating the sales by auction, under our management they largely and visibly declined; so that, notwithstanding that the population had vastly increased, we did not sell so much land by two-thirds as our predecessors had sold with a


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much more limited population. I hope I have heard the last of this unearthing. I suppose it belongs to that kind of policy which is always raking up the mouldy things of the past; but, at all events, gentlemen who appeal to the records of the country ought to take the trouble to see whether they are quoting correctly. I now come to what we have done. I might say that the only really fair speech that we have had was that of the honourable gentleman who spoke last before me, the honourable member for Wentworth (Sir J. P. Abbott); and I was very glad to hear him, who knew so much about it, repudiate the idea that in the Act of 1884 it was intended to limit the sales to the amount of 200,000l. If that had been intended it would have been expressed in the law. It is simply rubbish to interpret the letter of an Act of Parliament by saying that something quite different was meant. The Act states plainly enough that the limit shall be 200,000 acres. If it had been intended that land should be sold only to the value of 200,000l., it would assuredly have said so. Whatever latitude is allowed in the interpretation of an Act of Parliament, such a latitude as that was never heard of. What have we done? The honourable member who introduced this debate, and who attempted in such a disingenuous manner to hold me up to odium for my action at the Lands Office, belonged to the Government that immediately preceded us; and what did that Government do? The Government of Sir Patrick Jennings and Mr. Garvan did what no other Government at any time presumed to do. They said in writing that, in the present financial position of the country, —placing on record under their own hands what they intended— it was necessary to sell land to the utmost acre allowed by law. No other Government has said that. No other Government has placed it on record that they wished to alienate the public estate merely for the purpose of meeting the financial necessities of the country; but they have done it. They are branded with proclaiming to the world that they desired to sell every acre that the law would allow them to sell in order to meet the financial necessities of the country. And what steps did they take to do this? They directed 500,000 acres to be put in the


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market, so as to be sure to sell 200,000 acres. That is what those gentlemen did; and they are the gentlemen who accuse us of violating the letter of the law. In 1887 this Government, instead of selling 200,000 acres of land, as we are allowed to do, sold only a little more than one-half that quantity, notwithstanding that we had the encouragement of the minute of the late Government that it was necessary in the face of the financial difficulties of the country to sell every acre which the law allowed to be sold. This encouragement was given to us only twenty-eight days before we took office. What have we done this year? We have not sold 200,000 acres. We had sold only 53,570 acres up to September 30, so that we shall have a good run yet before we come up to the Jennings Government standard of selling the whole quantity allowed by law on account of the financial difficulties of the country. Well, I do not think that the attempt to blacken our character has been very successful. We have faithfully carried out the spirit of the law, and we have done nothing beyond that. We have shown no disposition whatever to force the land into the market. Now, a word or two about this question of land nationalisation. Some gentlemen on the other side and a gentleman on this side are crying out for land nationalisation. An honourable member opposite said, ‘I am a faithful disciple of Henry George.’ Then will he adopt all the extreme views of Henry George on the subject of Free-trade, which he connects with land nationalisation? He says that the philosophers of England and America do not go far enough, simply because they do not go into land nationalisation; but before Henry George was heard of we had far greater men, J. S. Mill and Mr. Russel Wallace, who, perhaps, were among the finest, if not the greatest, thinkers of our time, who held this opinion also, basing their view upon the fact that as land was not created by labour or by intellect, but was a thing bestowed by the Maker, it could not become property in the same sense as other forms of property created by labour or intelligence; but merely because it is essentially very different from other forms of property, it is not one whit more easy to nationalise it. The obstacles to nationalisation are


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manifold, deep-seated, and close at hand. They exist in human nature itself. Just in proportion as a man is anxious for the safety of his family and their progress in life, just in proportion that he is a valuable member of society, does he find himself struck with a passion to possess a freehold home:

The pride to rear an independent shed,
And give the lips we love unborrowed bread

is stronger than any laws, more subtle and deep than any philosophy, and form what schemes you may for the nationalisation of the land, they will be broken down by the best instincts, the best aspirations, and the holiest passions of the best part of the human race. There is the rock on which all these philosophers' hopes will be wrecked in their schemes; and so long as time lasts, so long as society endures, you never will see this dream of the fanciful philosopher, a common inheritance in the land of a country.

Very naturally much interest is attached to the appointment of Governors, and indeed, by a limited class, to everything belonging to them. I suppose it is the case in all countries; at all events in New South Wales there is a small floating crowd of persons, not including the most important colonists, whose chief ambition is to disport themselves in the sunshine of Government House. I believe it is a fact that the most distinguished man of our early political annals, and the richest colonist of the present day, cannot be numbered among Viceregal guests—never entered the Governor's doors. To many men the ceremony and restraint amount to a burden, to others the thought of taking the first step in etiquette never crosses the mind. And some men of large means and good position would run many miles in an opposite direction


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rather than sit down at the Governor's table. My acquaintance with Governors extends over forty years. I have served in Ministerial office under six, three of whom, Sir John Young, Sir Hercules Robinson, and Lord Carrington, have honoured me with their personal friendship. Previous to my acceptance of office I seldom visited Government House. Though I received repeated invitations, I never once dined with Sir Charles FitzRoy, and only once or twice with Sir William Denison. Though I had a deep respect for the office of Her Majesty's representative, I had no business and no inclination leading me to the Viceregal palace. My first official experience was with Sir John Young, who lives in my memory as one of the finest characters I ever knew. Fully informed on political subjects, he was frank and modest in communicating to others the lessons of his experience. While bearing himself with an inborn courtesy which gave grace to his words and actions, he was clear and decisive on all matters of official business, and in intercourse with him one received instruction unawares. I have always considered it fortunate for me that my early official life came under the influence of Sir John Young, who was so eminently qualified by long experience in Parliamentary life, and association with great minds, to advise his advisers. I continued to correspond with Lord Lisgar (the title by which he was raised to the peerage) all through his government of Canada, until near the close of his life. Elsewhere I have spoken of Sir Hercules Robinson, of his high-toned, manly character, and his eminent qualifications for the Vice-regal


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office; and I shall have occasion to speak of Lord Carrington in a later chapter.

It is a pleasure to acknowledge the high type of men appointed Governors of New South Wales. Even before the constitutional epoch there was Gipps, and Bourke, and Macquarie; perhaps better men could not have been found for the times in which they held office. But the Governors up to a very recent period received very different treatment from that accorded to the representative of Royalty in the present day. One of the ablest of them once said to me, when on the eve of leaving the colony, that he had always desired to visit the district of Mudgee; but that he could not consent to accept the hospitality of private persons; he could not afford to pay the expense out of his private purse; and there was no allowance authorised by Parliament for travelling. Up to the time of Lord Belmore, the Governor had to furnish his family apartments at Government House, and the luxury of special railway trains and steam launches was unknown. Even Sir James Martin brought the case of an unauthorised piece of furniture for Lady Young before Parliament. All that is now altered; and I am not disposed to express any opinion on the change. In any case it is not a whit worse than the extravagance on public buildings for official purposes.

During this Session a step was taken on my motion to bring about a change in the appointment of Governors. It will be seen that this did not arise from any feeling of dissatisfaction, though there was fair ground for complaint in one or two instances. But it


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was felt that these self-governing colonies during the last generation had shown such marked political development, and had grown to a position so vast in commerce, wealth, and distinctive character, as compared with former times, that their chief office, not only as headship of the local governing system, but as the principal link connecting them with the parent State, ought no longer to be regarded as a mere prize in the civil employments of the Empire. The sentiment which was seeking to find national expression was, that an Australian Governorship ought to be an object of honourable ambition, without regard to salary or emolument, not second to a seat in the British Cabinet.

On November 21 I moved in the Legislative Assembly the adoption of the following address to the Queen:—

(1) That the following address to Her Majesty the Queen be adopted by this House:

To the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty.

May it please your Majesty:

We, your Majesty's loyal and dutiful subjects, the members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, in Parliament assembled, desire to renew the expression of our devoted attachment to your Majesty's throne and person, and to respectfully represent that circumstances occurring in a neighbouring colony have given rise to certain grave considerations in relation to appointments to the office of Governor.

  • 1. We gratefully acknowledge the wisdom of the selection of the present Representative of your Majesty in New South Wales, who, in the performance of his high duties, has secured the respect and confidence of all classes of the inhabitants.
  • 2. In view of the great and growing interests of this colony


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    in connection with the Empire, we desire dutifully to convey to your Majesty the expression of our opinion that no person in the future should be appointed to the office of Governor who has not had experience in the conduct of public affairs, in high political office, or in the Imperial Parliament.
  • 3. Though not desirous of interfering with the functions of your Majesty's imperial advisers, we humbly submit that it is desirable and reasonable, and in strict accord with the privileges constitutionally conferred upon your Majesty's Australian subjects, that in future the Government of the colony should be informed of any intended appointment to the high office of Governor, before such appointment is finally made.

(2) That Mr. Speaker be authorised to sign the address, and transmit it, both by telegraph and post, through His Excellency the Governor, to the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

In support of my proposal, which was entirely new to an Australian Legislature, I delivered the following speech, which, I venture to think, sets out with tolerable clearness my reasons for appealing to Parliament for its adoption:—

I shall not consider it necessary to trespass long on the time of the House, nor shall I consider it needful to make any strong appeal to the House to adopt these resolutions. I wish at once to say that I do not take this step with any desire or intention of disturbing, still less of weakening, the relations between these colonies and the mother-country, and I think I take it in the interest of the Empire. It appears to me that if this address to Her Majesty is adopted—and this form, which the House is asked to assent to, is the best form to convey its opinion—if this address is adopted it will tend to increase the dignity of the office of Governor, it will tend to strengthen the claims of the colonies, and it will only be consistent with the developments of national life which every one of


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us must see going on in our midst. There is in the life of nations periods when processes are silently at work, which the mass of living men never see, and which are only detected by the clearest sighted and the most philosophical observers. These processes of thought proceed from one stage to another, until eventually they culminate in clear doctrines, which are afterwards embodied in strong national action. I think that a period of this kind is passing over these colonies at the present time. It has been said by De Tocqueville that prior to the great Revolution in France no one dreamt of what was going to take place; that although men were standing as it were upon the quaking surface of a volcano, everything went on just as usual without any person, excepting perhaps one in 100,000, suspecting that the causes were at work to produce the most tremendous changes which ever took place. Nothing of the kind is likely to occur here, but something may occur much more conducive to the peace, the well-being, the contentment, and the abiding happiness of the human family; and certainly the national life of these great colonies has so far grown, and grown with every succeeding year, that the wisest men amongst us, the wisest men in the world, cannot forecast the events of the next decade. I think that it is of the very highest importance, viewing steadily our connection with the mother-country—and viewing that alone—that Her Majesty's imperial advisers should be fully informed of the increased responsibility that falls upon them in appointing gentlemen to the high office of Governor in countries where the institutions of self-government have been conferred on the people. I shall have to allude, but I hope with becoming respect, and as briefly as possible, to the proposed appointment of a Governor in Queensland, which has led to what has taken place in several of the colonies, and which certainly has led to my asking the House to assent to this motion. If any person will read the life of William Edward Forster, he will see that during that gentleman's administration of the affairs of Ireland as Chief Secretary, which terminated a little over five years ago, Mr. Blake was at that time employed in the police service; that when Ireland, under Mr. Forster's


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administration, was divided into districts for the purpose of suppressing the Land League—I think that the districts each consisted of two counties—Mr. Blake was selected as one of the provisional magistrates answerable for the security of life in one particular district. I have not one word to say about Sir Henry Blake, but whatever his personal character may be, whatever his ability may be, whatever his attainments may be, I ask—and I ask with an assurance of the answer which I shall receive from every thoughtful man—whether a person in that employment in the imperial service is the person five years afterwards to be appointed the head of Government where Parliamentary institutions exist? No one, I think, can for a moment say that. Now, that is all that I shall say with reference to the incident which has given rise to this motion; but I cannot refrain from pointing out that my motion, if adopted, means this: a termination of the employment of what may, without disrespect, be termed professional Governors: that the time has come when no man as a mere step of promotion in the imperial service, should be appointed as Governor of one of these great colonies. That is what my motion means. I desire to speak with an absence of anything like disrespect, or even discourtesy; but I say that the time has come, and what I desire the House to say is that precisely the same qualities which point out men to be selected to assist in the administration of the Empire, shall be the qualities pointing out men to be selected as Governors of these great colonies. Coming to the address itself, it will be observed that the first paragraph expresses satisfaction with the appointment made in this colony. It appeared to me that it would be ungracious not to point out that we have no special cause of cavil, and that in the selection in our own colony we were perfectly satisfied. It appeared to me that it would be wrong to pass over that, lest it might be surmised that some latent dissatisfaction exists. In the next place, my address points out that in future the selection for the office of Governor should be confined to persons who have served in high office, or in the Imperial Parliament. I know very well that that is not a very definite description; but it is impossible


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to give a definite description. It, however, sufficiently indicates the class of men to be well understood by the mind of the Imperial Government. What is meant is that the Governors in future should be confined to that class of public men who had already indicated qualities to fit them for assisting in the government of the Empire, or, in other words, persons accustomed habitually to the consideration of the high affairs of State. I would go even a step further in what I say in support of this motion, and say that no man ought to be appointed by the Imperial Government in future merely for the sake of the salary attached to his office; it ought to be an object of the same kind of ambition as the object to serve the State as a Cabinet Minister; we ought to have no man sent to any one of the colonies as Governor who accepts the position for the mere sake of the salary and the emoluments which attach to the office. I now come to the last paragraph of the address, which, while studiously admitting that the appointment rests with the imperial advisers of Her Majesty—I admit that fully, as fully as possible—at the same time asks the very reasonable and just thing that the colonies should be informed as to whom the Imperial Government intend to appoint before the unalterable step is taken. That appears to me to be reasonable, and in the highest sense desirable, and strictly in accord with the spirit of our free institutions. It is far better if an occasion should arise for any representation to be made, that it should be made in time rather than that it should be made when it is too late; and, beyond all that, it appears to me to be a concession which the growth of the colonies in all the national attributes entitles them to. With regard to the class of men indicated in the motion as those whom I ask the House to express its opinion should be appointed in future, I may instance two in our own experience. If it were not that I am restrained by motives of delicacy, I might even say of rigid propriety, from adverting to examples on the other side, I could readily point out cases where inconvenience—not to use a stronger term—has been markedly caused by Governors of this colony, or of some other colony, owing to their not having that kind of experience which


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I think that a Governor ought to have; but I will abstain from taking that very undesirable course. However, there is nothing to prevent me pointing out the advantages on the other side. We had appointed as Governor of this colony some years ago a gentleman who had not only served in the Imperial Parliament for some years, but had also served in the very high and important office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. That gentleman— I mean Sir John Young—was one of the very best Governors who ever appeared in Australia. That was the result of his high Parliamentary experience, and his long communication with the ruling men of the parent State; and it is utterly impossible for any person who has had the experience, which fortunately Sir John Young had had, to be other than a highly enlightened, constitutional Governor. I might mention the case of our present Governor. He has not held high office, but he has served in the House of Commons and in the House of Peers, and he has throughout his life mixed with ruling men, and he has had sown in his very disposition, as it were, the principles of the form of government under which we live, and, although he does not strictly conform to the qualifications which I lay down, he at the same time, from his intimate association with leading men on both sides of the House in the mother-country, is eminently fitted by that kind of knowledge which alone can be derived from such an atmosphere. I need hardly point out that the events which have already taken place leave the colony no course other than to express the views of the people. We cannot, if we would, abstain from joining with our sister colonies in a matter of this kind, and at a time like this. It would be detrimental to our standing as a great colony, and it would be inconsistent with the claims which we have a right to put forth to the world. I think that I need say nothing to convince all sections of the House that we only perform our duty to the sister colonies to the north and the south also, and a duty which we owe to ourselves, in giving expression to the views to which I ask the House to assent. I ask the House to take no rash, no sudden, no unnecessary leap. I ask the House to strain no principle; but I ask the House to give consistency


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to that feeling which must be alive amongst us, to that principle of self-government which lives in all our institutions. The address to Her Majesty which I ask the House to adopt is in strict consistency with these conditions of our national life. I beg to move the resolution.

A lengthy debate followed. Mr. Dibbs said his side of the House was in full accord with the resolutions, though, as in duty bound, he took exception to something in the manner of submitting them. Mr. Garvan, also on the Opposition side, looked upon the ‘resolutions submitted as exceedingly important, and involving, perhaps, more important issues than were ever submitted before in resolutions to the Parliament.’ But he wanted more time to consider them on account of their importance. The late Mr. David Buchanan, who had ‘always advocated separation from England, and the independence of the country,’ moved an amendment to give effect to his views in these words:—

That the question be amended by the omission of all the words after the word ‘That’ with a view to the insertion in their place of the words ‘in the opinion of this House, the political connection of this colony of New South Wales with England tends seriously to obstruct and injure the free and independent government of this country by its own people.’

(2) That, in consequence of events which have happened of late in neighbouring colonies, that cardinal principle of democracy, that all free people should have the right to select and appoint their own rulers, has been disputed by the English Government, and denied to the colonies. This House is, therefore, of opinion that a political connection so subversive of our most valued rights should no longer exist.

(3) That the above resolutions be transmitted by address to the Governor, to be despatched by telegraph and letter to the


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Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, for presentation to the Queen.

The late Mr. James Fletcher replied to some of the objections on his own side:—

Exception has been taken to the mention of our present Governor in the resolution, but, for the life of me, I cannot see how it is possible to send home a resolution like this—unless we insert such a paragraph as that which has been objected to— without conveying to the home authorities the impression that the motion was proposed in consequence of some wrong-doing on the part of the present occupant of the office. This is an entirely new departure, and I say that it is a most proper thing to let the home authorities know that the Government have not been induced to bring forward this motion in consequence of anything that the Governor has done, but because there is a great principle which they, in maintaining the manhood of the people, have determined to establish for the future.

In reference to my speech, and some carping criticisms upon it, Mr. Fletcher said:—

The Colonial Secretary does not leave much room for equivocation. He is very mild, very respectful; but there is something decided, which shows that the Colonial Secretary means what he says, and that he is determined the people of New South Wales shall know whom their future Governor is to be. I closely watched every word the Colonial Secretary said, and I defy any man living to find fault with what he said, unless for quibbling purposes.

Mr. George H. Reid also objected, as in duty bound, though he felt bound to vote for my motion. He said:—

The objections to this resolution which strike my mind most forcibly, although I cannot deny the abstract position taken up by the Colonial Secretary, are objections not from an imperial point of view—not in any sense with regard to the interests of


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the Imperial Government; but it is the fear that the more interference is exercised by a local Government with reference to the appointment of a Governor, the more impaired will be his independence, the less desirable his position, the more open will he be to the suspicion of partiality, and the more unfortunate will be the position of the Opposition. So that upon the whole, while I feel constrained to support the motion, owing to the able and very plausible way in which the Colonial Secretary has drafted the resolutions—although I feel that I must, as a matter of abstract right and reason, agree with the honourable member as to the first and third resolutions, still I hope he will see the inconvenience of the second—the inadvisableness of attempting to define any particular classes as being those from whom the Governors of this country should in the future be selected.

Mr. B. R. Wise, who is one of the rising men among the new generation of Australians, from whom much may be expected, spoke at some length in support of my motion. I quote the following passages:—

The honourable and learned member (Mr. Reid) admitted that he was unable to understand the third resolution. Therefore I am sure he will not take offence if he finds that I am unable to agree with the interpretation which he put upon it. The resolutions are intended to meet not the demands of academic philosophers and theoretic disputants, but a practical difficulty that has arisen in another colony. What would have been the necessity, and where, I ask, would have been the statesmanship, of stating an abstract proposition as to the precise relationship which should exist between these colonies and the mother-country upon an occasion like this? What would have been the advantage, and where the statesmanship, of attempting to define precisely what ought, upon all conceivable occasions, to be the precise limit beyond which a Colonial Government ought not to go in objecting to the appointment of one gentleman as Governor, or recommending the appointment of another? What we have now to do is to see how we can best help a neighbouring colony


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in a grave constitutional difficulty with which it has been brought face to face. We can do that by sending a unanimous representation to the English Parliament that we are of opinion that before a Governor is appointed his name should be submitted to the Government of the colony for which he is intended. That involves us in no expression of opinion as to what should be done if the Government of England should choose to force upon a colony some one who was distasteful to the people. That question may be dealt with when it arises.

We are not now to consider the alarmist position which has been presented to the House by the lively imagination of my honourable and learned friend. We are not to consider now the danger of Governors in the future being the nominees of the party in power. We are not to consider now whether the Government of the day may ever be put into the difficult position of having to choose between two candidates. We have not now to consider what steps the Government would take to ascertain who was best fitted for the office. But we have to say, and we can say fairly, upon the information now before us, that it is advisable in the best interests, not only of these colonies, but of England also, that the Government of the country ought to know before a man is definitely appointed whether he is such a man who, through no fault of his own, but, perhaps it may be from his virtues, is or is not distasteful to the people. The test of good government is the happiness of the people, and certainly the test of the qualifications of a Governor should be that he is acceptable to the mass of the people whom he is to govern. The reasons for disliking a man may be trivial in the extreme; but if they exist, it should be the duty of the Government of the day to represent that fact to the imperial authorities. After an expression of opinion of that kind, no one would be forced upon a community against the will of the people. The objections to the proposed course are imaginary and unsubstantial; but the advantages are real and great.

After some further debate, the House divided at


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midnight. Mr. Thomas Walker was the only member who voted with Mr. Buchanan for his amendment, and the address to Her Majesty, as proposed, was agreed to unanimously.

The Government was not long before it was entertained with another motion of censure. Mr. Dibbs, who, when in the murky shades of Opposition, lives with votes of censure hung up all round him like Chinese lanterns, moved, on November 30, that the Statement of Ways and Means be referred back to the Treasurer. The motion gave rise to a dreary, irrelevant debate, which simply wasted time. Mr. Dibbs's own friends left the House in anger or disgust, and when the division came his motion was defeated by 42 to 18 votes.

The Houses adjourned over the Christmas holidays on December 21, and reassembled on January 8. On the 9th Mr. Want, who had held office as Attorney-General with Mr. Dibbs, and afterwards with Sir Patrick Jennings, moved the adjournment of the House to bring under notice the appointment of one of the Railway Commissioners. Mr. Want had moved in this matter some weeks previously, and I had promised to make enquiries. These enquiries I made, and the Government were satisfied by the result that the charges and insinuations against the Commissioner were unfounded. The papers were laid before Parliament. It did not appear to me that I was called upon again to reply to Mr. Want. In consequence of my silence Mr. Want became angry, and ‘called upon every right-minded and honourable man in the House to support him if he called for a division upon his motion’ as a vote of no


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confidence. Nine gentlemen who usually voted with the Government, and who were elected as Ministerial supporters, thought it their duty to vote on this motion in response to Mr. Want's appeal, and the House was then adjourned. The next morning, on behalf of my colleagues and for myself, I tendered the resignation of the Government. In conversation, Lord Carrington asked whether, in my opinion, he should send for Mr. Want. I replied that, as a large majority of Free-traders had been sent into the House, and as Mr. Want was a Free-trader, for that reason, and also because by the success of his motion he was the direct cause of our retirement, he appeared to be the proper person to form a Government to supply our places. His Excellency sent for Mr. Want, who, however, declined the task, I believe on the high constitutional ground that he was about to take a pleasure trip to Japan.

Mr. Dibbs was then sent for.




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10. CHAPTER X

MR. DIBBS AGAIN PRIME MINISTER—GENERAL ELECTION—RALLYING CRY OF THE NEW GOVERNMENT ‘PROTECTION’—DEFEATED—FORMATION OF THE FIFTH PARKES MINISTRY—THE NOMINEE PRINCIPLE IN THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL—ITS EVIL WORKING IN NEW SOUTH WALES—STRANGE ABUSE OF IT IN NEW ZEALAND—MY EXPLANATORY STATEMENT IN PARLIAMENT—THE LAND BILL SUCCESSFULLY PASSED —MR. MC MILLAN AND THE STATE OF THE FINANCES—THE DEFENCES OF THE COLONY—MY SYMPATHY WITH THE EARLY VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT—GENERAL EDWARDS ON THE SOLDIERLY QUALITIES OF OUR MEN—LETTER FROM LORD CARNARVON ON THE SUBJECT— PRESENT STRENGTH OF THE FORCES

MR. DIBBS undertook the formation of a Ministry. Though the estimates of expenditure were nearly all passed, the sudden and unexpected Ministerial crisis left the country without the Appropriation Act. When his Ministry was formed and sworn on January 17, Mr. Dibbs applied to the Assembly for a temporary vote of credit, which, in my judgment, he was justly entitled to, but a majority thought otherwise, and Parliament was at once dissolved without Supply. During the elections, the public service was carried on by irregular means similar to the unconstitutional course resorted to by Sir James Martin in 1871-2. The opening speech admitted that the course which Ministers had been ‘compelled to adopt,’ was one which must be condoned by Parliament.




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The new Prime Minister issued his manifesto, and in bold words declared his determination to reverse the fiscal policy of the country. In his published address to his constituents, he said:—

Being favourable to a change in the fiscal policy of the country, we were bound to take, as we have taken, the very first opportunity of asking the judgment of the people as to whether they will empower us to bring about that change. The situation must be vigorously dealt with.

The time has arrived when the inauguration of this change ought to be no longer delayed.

I joined with my political friends in fighting for the flag of Free-trade throughout the elections, and we won by a narrow majority, but my feeling was very strong not to assume Parliamentary leadership. When the new Parliament met, the valiant Prime Minister had lost his courage. It was proposed to postpone the change which before the electors was ‘to be no longer delayed.’ The millennium of dearness and restriction was not quite come. The Governor was made to say in the opening Speech: ‘It is not intended to submit any proposals for fresh taxation during the present Session.’ The Government pleaded that ‘the very first opportunity’ might be allowed to slip by, and that ‘the situation might be vigorously dealt with’ at a more convenient season.

In the meantime, I had to consider my own position as an individual member of Parliament released from political obligations. Smarting under the recollection of the treatment I had received in the desertion of


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Government supporters on Mr. Want's motion, I had no desire for a repetition of that experience. I felt that I had done nothing to justify their withdrawal of their belief in me when it was a question of my conduct against the conduct of an unfriendly critic, and I felt keenly that an injustice had been done to an honourable man and a public officer, for whose appointment I was largely responsible, and in respect to which I had scrupulously considered the public interest alone. I took no step to induce any man to regard me as one intending to assume a responsible place in the state of parties which the ballot-box had revealed. I wrote to Mr. William McMillan, who had acted as chairman at several meetings, stating distinctly my unwillingness to be more than a member of the party. I had never shrunk from sharing in the struggles of the forlorn hope or from fighting an up-hill battle, however great the odds against us, but I was not prepared to undertake leadership where any falsehood, however black, concocted by opponents, would receive the partial countenance of professed friends. Notwithstanding this attitude on my part, at a numerously attended meeting of the Opposition, with Mr. McMillan in the chair, I was unanimously elected leader. It was difficult to decline this handsome testimony of the confidence of a great party, which I had not sought and which came upon me without a single expression of dissent.

I took my place in the Assembly and moved an amendment on the address, which, if carried, would inform the Governor that the House ‘declined to proceed with any business whatever while his present


  ― 260 ―
advisers retained office.’ After a lengthy debate, characterised by much warmth, my motion was carried by sixty-eight to sixty-four votes, giving a majority of four against the Ministry. On the following day Mr. Dibbs and his colleagues resigned after a reign of fifty days. But in those fifty days Mr. Dibbs did more violence to the Constitution than any man who had previously held his high office, however long his occupancy of it. It is not any part of my design to disfigure these pages with a catalogue of Mr. Dibbs's political sins; there are two objections—it would be too long, and it would be too unpleasant. But it is part of my design to condemn political abuses, and to exercise whatever power I may possess to guard the country against political crimes in the future. It is marvellous that a man of so kindly a nature as Mr. Dibbs should do the things which he notoriously has done, apparently without the faintest consciousness that they were wrong. It may, perhaps, be accounted for in some measure by the fact that he entered into politics late in life, or it may be accounted for by the oft-repeated explanation of his present colleague, Mr. Edmond Barton, that he is a ‘conundrum.’ I shall only dwell briefly upon one of the political outrages of which Mr. Dibbs was guilty during his fifty days. When he had appealed to the electors, and must have known that he was defeated in his appeal, he nominated nine gentlemen to seats in the Legislative Council to join in making laws for the country for the term of their natural life. The enormity of this act will be seen by persons unacquainted with politics, when it is explained that, in a time of crisis when the retention


  ― 261 ―
of power is uncertain, Australian Ministries have generally abstained from making any appointment even to the Civil Service. In April, 1892, Mr. Dibbs indulged himself in making nine other nominations to the Legislative Council. At this time Mr. Dibbs had been three times Prime Minister, but the united lives of his three Ministries only amounted to two hundred days, and in that space of time, little more than half a year, Mr. Dibbs had appointed, adding to these two batches two or more solitary appointments, a full score of life-legislators. But this is the best side of his offence against the Constitution and the people; the worse side has to be stated. These appointments were party appointments of a glaring type; almost all were well-known Protectionists. In the first place the number of appointments in the given time was beyond all reason excessive: in the next place they were all of a partisan colour. It seems but right to take my own case as Prime Minister for an illustration. My tenure of office as Chief Adviser of the Crown has altogether extended over eleven years and nine months; and if I had recommended as large a number relatively to our respective terms of office as Mr. Dibbs, I should have sent at least four hundred gentlemen into the Legislative Council. I next come to political character. I always maintained that Ministers were bound to avoid party appointments, and to consider both sides and all sections, and in point of fact I have nominated repeatedly to the Legislative Council the bitterest opponents I ever had in political life. I believe all other men who have held the principal office in Government, except only Mr. Dibbs, have acted


  ― 262 ―
from considerations similar in their nature to those which weighed with me.

But what must be the pernicious effect of Mr. Dibbs's conduct in respect to the Council? The next Free-trade Ministry, which will come swiftly, would be justified in recommending the appointment of a score of Free-traders merely to neutralise the damage which Mr. Dibbs has done to that House of Parliament. An evil example in performing the functions of State is proportioned in its evil consequences to the stamp of authority impressed upon it. It is easy for the worst of men to outdo Mr. Dibbs in bad conduct; and nobody can foretell who may follow Mr. Dibbs.

But Mr. Dibbs's appointments have doomed the nominee Council to destruction. What argument and eloquence have failed to do, his reckless and ungovernable desire to make all things within his reach subservient to his party ends has done in awakening the apprehensions of all thoughtful men to the dangers of the nominee principle. Mr. Wentworth's misgivings as to the safe operation of the principle, when he limited the trial of it to five years in the first instance by the letter of the Constitution itself, is now more than confirmed by thirty-six years of experience. By step to step in degeneracy the Council has visibly declined before the eyes of all men. Even in a conservative sense it has utterly broken down, and the time seems to be coming when the Lower House, the outcome of manhood suffrage, will be the more dignified and self-respecting Chamber.

In a country like New South Wales, where all men


  ― 263 ―
are politically equal, it seems passing strange that the people should have permitted a power to be vested in the Executive for the time being to appoint legislators for life. It might have been foreseen that, sooner or later, such power would be used by men to gratify their personal preferences or to subserve their party ends. It probably never entered into the wildest dream of Mr. Wentworth, when haunted by his fears of democracy, that a time would ever come when a coarse and vulgar interpretation would be given to the profligate political war-cry, ‘the spoils to the victors,’ and that every shred of authority would be converted into a flagitious patronage, from the messenger to the member of the Upper House of Parliament.

But the nominee principle has worked inimically to the members whom it has selected as its favoured peers. Withdrawn from all sense of responsibility, under no obligation to consider the feelings or the opinions of the people, the door opened to them by an unseen hand to privileges which they have not won, with little to do and nothing to fear, it is not surprising that they grow stiff-necked. It has worked detrimentally to the public interest in another direction, which perhaps no one foresaw, and for which nobody can be held answerable. Members of the Council grow old like other men, and become physically incapable of performing their duties; but there they are, and there they remain. No one can ask them to resign, and it is very seldom that they think of it themselves. So this vicious principle continually works to impair the collective strength of the Council itself among other depressing and enfeebling


  ― 264 ―
consequences. There can be little doubt that the Council will be reconstructed on an elective basis at an early date.

It has lately been announced that the Ministry of New Zealand recommended to Lord Glasgow, within a month of his arrival, a perfect stranger, to appoint fifteen new members to the nominated Council of that colony. The Governor very properly refused. It is now stated (June 27, 1892) that a former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Stout, has published a letter in the newspapers denouncing Lord Glasgow's conduct and advocating ‘a single Chamber, with an elective Governor.’ This is sufficient evidence of how impossible it is for some men to learn that calm and unimpassioned view of the affairs of Government which is, perhaps, the noblest feature of statesmanship. The very checks implanted in the constitutional law by the instinct of prudence, and for the purpose of public safety, are to be swept away the moment they are felt to be inconvenient to minds incapable of comprehending the true principles of Government.

On the defeat of Mr. Dibbs, I was again commissioned by Lord Carrington to form a new Administration. A number of comparatively young men of much promise had taken their places on the Free-trade side of the House. They had shown zeal, ability, and political firmness in the elections, and some of them in the previous Parliament. They could not be, and they ought not to be, overlooked in allotting men to portfolios. In the Government which I succeeded in forming, half the Ministers were entirely new to official life,


  ― 265 ―
and those who have had experience in Cabinet-making will know the ominous drift of meaning which that description conveys. It is pardonable in a young man of spirit and ability to imagine that men never lived in the world before his time. In talent, energy, and character the new Government was equal to any that had gone before it. The new Treasurer, Mr. McMillan, was a man possessing good reasoning powers, a clear knowledge of financial business, and a high-toned eloquence; the new Minister of Public Works, Mr. Bruce Smith, besides being a clear and logical speaker, had studied economic questions as a pleasurable pursuit, and was acknowledged to be a man of excellent business capacity; the new Minister of Public Instruction, Mr. Carruthers, was a young man of untiring energy and remarkable ability, and to him more than to anyone else the Women's College within the University owes its existence. I make this passing reference to the more prominent of the new men to enable me to express my belief, now our official relations are at an end, that they have before them honourable careers of public usefulness.

On April 3 I made a statement to the House explanatory of our proposed course in dealing with public business, from which I quote the following passage:—

We propose to make this Session—and we know we can only do this with the assistance of honourable members; but we know we have a fair claim to ask that assistance—we propose to make it a short Session for the consideration of the Land Bill of which my honourable friend, the member for East Maitland, has


  ― 266 ―
given notice. We intend that Bill—and I can say this without anticipating his explanation of it—to meet the most pressing grievances of the different classes intimately concerned in the occupation of the soil. We believe that in the hands of my honourable colleague, the Secretary for Lands, we shall be able to produce a Bill which will be acceptable to those great classes— I mean the free selectors and the pastoralists, and those classes which lie between those two great bodies, namely, the men who have mixed farms, but carry on other pursuits than the average pursuit of a free selector, and who are introducing an industry into this country the most valuable of all others, that of English yeomen—that of the Australian yeoman I should say, because I want all our feelings, all our aspirations, all our interests identified with the soil of this country, of which I am really as much a native, if not more a native, than the men who were born here forty-five years ago, for I have lived here fifty years, or close upon it. With the assistance of honourable members we intend to limit this Session to the fair, dispassionate, and searching examination of this Bill, and we ask honourable gentlemen sitting on all sides of the House to lend us contributions from the store of their experience to make this Bill as good, as acceptable, and as just to all classes as it is possible to make it. Beyond that we ask the House to go with us in passing into law a number of small measures for giving effect to the provisions of the Public Works Act.

Mr. J. N. Brunker, the Minister of Lands, moved the second reading of his Land Bill on May 15. Mr. Brunker was a man who, by his personal conduct and general bearing through a long life, had secured the respect and confidence of all classes, and he possessed an extensive practical knowledge of the relation of classes settled on the public estate, and of the working of former Land Acts. He explained and supported his Bill in a well-reasoned speech which was very favourably


  ― 267 ―
received. The Bill provided for the correction of certain abuses, amended defects in the legislation of 1884, offered special facilities for the acquisition of larger holdings by what might be termed a class of middlemen on the Western plains, and it created a judicial tribunal for hearing and deciding cases of dispute. The debate on the second reading, though marked by much agreement in opinion, extended over nine nights, when the Bill was read the second time by 68 votes to 3.

The measure was discussed very fully in committee in both Houses, and generally with approval. In due course the Bill received the Royal assent. It made a great change in the law; it did not satisfy everybody, but it was received with widespread opinion in its favour.

The new Treasurer, Mr. McMillan, made his exposition of the public finances on April 10. He estimated the expenditure for the year at 8,913,000l., and the revenue at 8,938,000l., giving him a credit balance on December 31, of 25,000l.

During this time I gave much attention, as other demands upon my time would permit, to the defences of the colony. It is a curious circumstance that military matters are seized upon by vapid and idle minds in all countries as the most fitting subjects for the exercise of their ingenuity in discovering startling abuses and instituting model reforms. The tales of the proverbial ‘old soldier,’ dark hints from discontented subordinates, eavesdroppings picked up by incontinent gossipmongers in obscure clubs, are palatable food for


  ― 268 ―
these devouring minds. New South Wales has its motley sect of military unbelievers who have set up a creed of their own. But in reality the expenditure in this important branch of the public service, though necessarily heavy, has been well directed, and the General commanding and his staff are above reproach, as are in my belief all the officers engaged upon the works of construction, with the exception of fraud in the case of one constructor, and remissness in supervision in connection with that particular work. Blunders and mistakes, and in some instances waste, have occurred, as they would occur in any large undertaking on earth, where heavy expenditure was inevitable, and new experience had to be gained.

From the first enrolment at the time of the Crimean War I had always taken a warm interest in the Volunteer movement. I had formed the opinion in the early years of my political life that the country must depend upon its own resources for its defence. I urged this view in the Legislature and by such means as were at my disposal. One of my early political friends was Sir William Charles Windeyer, one of the present Judges of the Supreme Court. He joined the Volunteers and rose to the rank of Captain, when his professional engagements compelled him to retire. We often exchanged ideas in those days on the subject of the defence of the colony, which was attractive to both of us. My friend Windeyer was a young man of high spirit, bold and decisive in the common incidents of life, with a strong capacity for public affairs. He would have made as


  ― 269 ―
good a soldier as he has made a sound Judge. During my first tenure of office I conducted through the Assembly the Volunteer Regulation Act.

When in office in later years I always had too large a burden upon my shoulders, with the incessant duties of First Minister added to the cares of a great Department, to give much time to the technical consideration of questions of defence, but I was in continuous communication with the officers in charge, and at times with Lieutenant-General Sir William Jervois, General Schaw, Lieutenant-General Sir J. Bevan Edwards, and other men of large military knowledge and experience, and when in England I had conversations on the same subject with Lord Wolseley and other distinguished soldiers. I kept in view the chief points of defence as explained and insisted upon by these high authorities, and to a large extent they have been covered by the defence work carried out before I last retired from office. Splendid guns of modern type, which had been warehoused for years, were put in position, and a complete system of submarine mines had been organised. As to the physical character and style of the Australian Volunteer, few persons will rate him below the average of other countries. In a letter addressed to me in August 1889, General Edwards says:—

We had an excellent show on Saturday—3,577 on parade—and I felt it a very special personal compliment that so many should have come, and from such long distances, and at so much inconvenience.

I am very glad they got home dry. You have splendid


  ― 270 ―
material, and considering the amount of training they receive, their appearance and steadiness were quite wonderful. While you have such men as these, animated by such patriotic zeal— the independence of Australia is safe—provided they are duly and properly organised, and this they may be without any great additional expense.

In another letter General Edwards—speaking of another colony, not New South Wales—hits the weak point in our social relations to the Volunteer. Beyond doubt the sympathy of the well-to-do classes might be more in accord with the movement. Any blunder or defect is made the most of by these supercilious critics, and little hearty support is extended to the rank and file of the service. The General, whose observations in society were keen, says:—

The upper classes hold themselves aloof. The employers of labour also throw obstacles in the way of the men enrolling themselves, and refuse to employ them if they are absent from their work for military duties.

In connection with the defences, I give an interesting letter from the late Earl of Carnarvon which I received from him when he was on the point of leaving Australia in 1888. I had made the acquaintance of Lord Carnarvon many years ago, at the time of the annexation of Fiji, when, in the absence of the Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, I had occasion to communicate confidentially with him as Secretary of State. Both in England and in Australia we had many conversations, and we frequently corresponded on Australian affairs. While in England in 1882, I gave evidence


  ― 271 ―
before the Royal Defence Commission of which Lord Carnarvon was Chairman, and he probably wrote to me with a greater freedom arising from this acquaintance:—

Dear Sir Henry Parkes,—We probably reach King George's Sound to-morrow, and I shall bid my final farewell to Australia; but I cannot go without a few lines on a subject which I have very much at heart, and on which I had hoped to have had some conversation with you, but for the press of business which engrossed your time during the centenary celebrations at Sydney.

You were good enough to give me an opportunity of seeing somewhat of the defences of the harbour, and though my opinion as that of a civilian can necessarily have no technical or professional value, yet the question of coastal defences is one which for many years in one form or another has been so much in my mind that even at the risk of saying what is familiar to you, I feel bound to give you in a very few words my general impression.

You have in New South Wales already spent so much on defences, and you have, I believe, such excellent ‘matériel’ in the shape of new guns, though many of them are not yet mounted, that a comparatively small expenditure, and a not very long time, would enable you to place Sydney in a position of reasonable defence; but I doubt if any impartial and competent expert would advise you that you are at present adequately protected. You know as I do the extremely frail tenure on which peace in Europe now rests, and the great probability that in the event of war you in Australia, as we in England, may become involved in hostilities. Should this be the case we must anticipate:—

  • 1. The shortest conceivable time for preparation.
  • 2. The swiftest and most unsparing attack on all such wealthy and strategically valuable outposts as the great Australian towns.



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  • 3. The absolute inability of the home Government to send you any necessary stores, ammunition, armaments, &c., at all events during the first stages of the war. There will be, I am confident, a run upon our home resources far in excess of the supply.
  • 4. You will probably have to reckon with more powerful guns and more heavily armed cruisers on the part of either Russia or France than would have been the case six or seven years ago when the Defence Commission, of which I was Chairman, made its recommendations.
  • 5. Under such conditions as these the best forts—if made and the best guns if mounted in them—are insufficient for their purpose, unless there is a reasonable amount of practice for the gunners. The other day in Sydney Harbour the practice at a stationary mark in a familiar position was not good; and it is needless to ask what it would have been in the hurry of an attack with a ship moving—with steam and tide—perhaps 18 knots an hour. Unless to a certain extent the probable incidents of attack and defence are rehearsed, and unless men are told off, and all the necessary stores, torpedoes, electric lights, and other implements are allotted to their several places, the confusion will be necessarily such that all chance of making a good resistance will be vain. Pray do not allow men in Sydney to trust, as we unfortunately are disposed in England to do, to patriotism and national vigour, and to take insufficient account of the powers of secret and scientific combination, which modern warfare has developed in Europe.

I could say much more on this subject; but I do not like to say less, for after the free communications which have passed between us I should feel it on my conscience if I did not honestly and fairly tell you the impression made on my mind by what I have seen. You will, I know, understand the feeling with which I write, and will weigh what I have said; and I hope you


  ― 273 ―
will agree with me, for there is no one whose pronounced opinion could so overbear objects and smooth difficulties on such a subject as this like yours.

There is indeed another question connected with the general subject of defence which has been a good deal discussed in New South Wales and elsewhere, and which deserves, I think, very careful consideration. I mean the expediency of limiting the number of foreign ships of war admitted to your waters, and of allotting to them some position where their movements may be in some degree controlled by your guns and torpedo boats. It is a difficult question from many points of view, but I am clear it is one of very great importance, and far more easily settled in a time of peace than when diplomatic relations are strained by the apprehensions of war.

Believe me, dear Sir Henry,

Yours very faithfully,

CARNARVON.

‘Shannon,’ February 16, 1888.

As I have said, many of the grounds of complaint, such as ‘guns unmounted,’ have since been removed, and the forces at the present time are in a state highly creditable to the colony.

About the same time that I received Lord Carnarvon's letter I received a letter from Sir William Jervois much to the same purport, and the colony is indebted to Sir William for his painstaking labours, extending over a long period, to improve and perfect our system of defence.

On January 19, 1891, according to a return presented to Parliament, the following was the strength of the military forces:—




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General Staff of the Defence Force ..  28 
Artillery Staff ...... 
Permanent Staff ......  11 
Paymaster's Staff ..... 
Permanent Staff in connection with Reserves  13 
Commanding Engineer's Department .. 
Permanent Medical Corps ....  15 
Volunteer Medical Corps ....  91 
Permanent Artillery .....  556 
Permanent Submarine Miners ...  23 
Volunteer Submarine Miners ...  115 
Engineer Corps ......  119 
Volunteer Artillery Corps ....  527 
Cavalry Corps ......  413 
Mounted Infantry .....  300 
Infantry .......  2,699 
Commissariat and Transport Corps ..  39 
Ordnance Department ....  12 
4,976 

In addition to the above the colony possesses a valuable force known as the Naval Brigade, mostly well-seasoned men, and numbering 334 all told. If a time of public danger should come, New South Wales could easily put into the field an army of ten thousand men.




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11. CHAPTER XI

OPENING OF PARLIAMENT, APRIL 29, 1890—THE FEDERATION CONVENTION—MY ACCIDENT OF MAY 18—WIDESPREAD SYMPATHY— LORD CARRINGTON—HIS HIGH QUALITIES—MR. DIBBS AND THE OPPOSITION—THE GREAT STRIKE AND ITS DIFFICULTIES—SPECIAL CONSTABLES—DECISION OF THE GOVERNMENT NOT TO INTRODUCE CONTENTIOUS BUSINESS IN PARLIAMENT DURING THE STRIKE TROUBLES—ROYAL COMMISSION ON INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES

PARLIAMENT opened for the Session of 1890 on April 29. The second paragraph of the opening Speech said: ‘During the recess accredited representatives of the Australasian colonies assembled in conference to consider the expediency of holding, under the authority of the several Parliaments, a convention to originate the great work of Australian federation; and the conference unanimously resolved that the time has arrived for the union of these colonies under one Legislative and Executive Government, and that the members of the conference should take such steps as may be necessary to induce the legislatures of their respective colonies to appoint delegates to a National Australasian Convention, empowered to consider and report upon an adequate scheme for a federal constitution. Both Houses of Parliament will be invited to take the necessary steps to give effect to the decisions of the conference; and I feel assured that the prayers of the people of the parent


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colony will follow the endeavours of the concordant Governments to bring the whole of Australia into one enduring bond of national existence.’

A number of important measures were announced, including several much-needed new lines of railway, and a new Electoral Bill; and the Assembly steadily proceeded with business largely in charge of the Minister at the head of the Public Works Department. Outside Parliament, matters of serious public concern were engaging attention, among others a devastating flood in the far Western interior, which did great damage to the town of Bourke. My hands, as usual, were full. But my health was fairly good, and I never shrank from labour.

On May 7 I moved that the House concur in the resolutions adopted by the Melbourne conference on February 13, in substance as follows:—

  • (1) That the Australian colonies agree to unite in the constitution of a Federal Government.
  • (2) That the remoter Australasian colonies be admitted into such union at such times and on such conditions as might hereafter be agreed upon.
  • (3) That the members of the conference take the necessary steps for the appointment of members to a National Australasian Convention for the purpose of framing a constitution.

And my motion proposed four members of the House for election to the convention. My speech in support of this motion was received with much approbation,


  ― 277 ―
and my motion, when the division took place in my absence some weeks later, was carried by the over-whelming majority of ninety-seven votes against eleven.

The names submitted by my resolution were those of Mr. McMillan and myself on the Government side, and of the present Speaker, Sir Joseph P. Abbott, and Mr. J. P. Garvan on the Opposition side. I did not nominate Mr. Dibbs for the plain reason that Mr. Dibbs had recently declared himself in the broadest terms hostile, while Mr. Garvan, whom Mr. Dibbs himself, when forming his last Ministry, had chosen as his Treasurer, was a consistent and earnest friend of federation. It never occurred to me that Mr. Dibbs would or could consent to sit in a convention to promote the union of the colonies when he had lately declared in public that it ‘would take a good deal more time than fifty-seven years for the Australian colonies to be bound together in union.’ A ballot was, however, called for, and Mr. Dibbs was elected by the lowest number of successful votes, in place of his friend Mr. Garvan.

On May 18 I met with a severe accident, which, in grateful acknowledgment of the generous outburst of sympathy it called forth, and on account of the depressing influence it has had upon my whole life since, must be noticed with some particulars. The following note contains the substance of paragraphs in the public papers:—

On the afternoon of Sunday, May 18, 1890, Sir Henry Parkes, accompanied by Lady Parkes, left Hampton Villa, Balmain, a little before 3 o'clock P.M., and crossed by the ferry to Erskine Street,


  ― 278 ―
Sydney, with the object of paying a visit in the city. At the foot of Erskine Street they engaged a cab, in which they drove up to Wynyard Square, thence along York Street into Margaret Street. On turning the corner into Margaret Street the horse shied at some object and dashed down the hill at a gallop; in a few moments he crossed the street obliquely and upset the cab with a crash on the pavement, nearly opposite Pfahlert's Hotel, apparently getting stunned by the fall. Lady Parkes extricated herself from the shattered cab with no more serious injury than a few bruises. Sir Henry, on trying to rise, found himself unable to stand on his right foot; on trying a second time the foot hung loosely by the skin and flesh. Some persons in the crowd offered assistance. ‘Lean on us,’ they cried, to which he replied, ‘I cannot lean on you, for my leg is broken.’ Two gentlemen then offered to carry him to another cab, which they did. He at first asked them to drive to the Hospital, but, correcting himself immediately, requested to be driven to Dr. Maurice O'Connor's, in College Street. Dr. O'Connor was not at home, and Sir Henry, with Lady Parkes, was then driven by way of Pyrmont to his residence at Balmain. Dr. O'Connor arrived about an hour afterwards, when it was ascertained that the injury consisted of a comminuted fracture of the tibia and simple fracture of the fibula of the right leg. The broken bones were set about three hours after the accident, and, under the skilful treatment of Dr. O'Connor, the progress towards recovery continued steady from the first.

Addresses of sympathy from public bodies, and letters and messages of like import from all the Australasian Governors, and from leading men throughout the colonies, and in England and other countries, including the Secretary of State, were received by Sir Henry Parkes, with a large number of letters from ladies and gentlemen in private life.

When Parliament met on the 20th, as soon as the Speaker took the chair in the Assembly, the House was informed of the accident by my colleague, Mr. Bruce


  ― 279 ―
Smith. I copy from the official debates the speeches delivered on the occasion:—

Mr. BRUCE SMITH: I regret to have to announce to the House, what they have already learnt through the press, that a very serious accident happened to the Premier on Sunday evening, when he was thrown from a cab, which resulted in his leg being broken. It is highly probable, as the accident is a very serious one, that the Premier will be prevented from attending the House for some weeks. I saw the Premier last night, and he desired me, in the first place, to express to the House his very great regret that he should be prevented from fulfilling his many official obligations to the House and the country. He also desired to express his very sincere appreciation of the very many kind messages and expressions of sympathy which have come from both sides of the House. Honourable members will be glad to know, from the very last report, the Premier having been seen by the Principal Under-Secretary this afternoon, that although he suffered considerable pain, and had not a particularly good night, he seemed very cheerful under the circumstances. I believe he is himself very sanguine that he will be able to come to the House again in four or five weeks.

Mr. DIBBS: I desire to say a few words with regard to the future Government business, and to take the earliest possible opportunity of expressing on behalf of myself as leader, and on behalf of honourable members on this side of the House, the extreme pain and regret with which we heard of the serious accident which has happened to the Premier. There is no doubt that I am as strong an opponent of the Premier as any man in this country is, and I feel as strongly with regard to many of his views as any man can feel; but an accident of the painful character which has overtaken him is an occurrence which touches the finest feelings of human nature; and I am capable of sympathising with the Premier as much as any man in this country can be. All the honourable members on this side of the House with whom I have conversed have expressed the deepest sympathy with him in his misfortune, and we hope that


  ― 280 ―
the assurance which has been given to us that the Premier will be able to return to the Assembly at an early date will be realised. While we may differ with the Premier, we sympathise with him in his misfortune, which at his time of life is no doubt a very great and serious calamity. I am sure it will be gratifying to the Premier to know that he has the sympathy of the whole House in his misfortune. While availing myself of the first opportunity of expressing the feelings of honourable members on this side of the House, I wish also to make a suggestion to the Government with regard to the very important business of which the Premier is the mover—I refer to the federation resolutions which are now before the House. I think it will be only showing to the Premier the respect due to his position, and to the great interest he has taken in the question, if we postpone the debate on those resolutions. I hope that the Government will see their way to postpone the further consideration of the question until the Premier returns, so that he may have an opportunity of replying to the various speeches which will be made on the subject. I say this with all sincerity. The question is now fairly launched before the House and the country; it is one of the most important subjects ever submitted to this Chamber; it is a question which will be fully discussed; and we are only anxious that the discussion should end in what is best for the whole country. In justice, therefore, to the Premier in his position, and with due sympathy for the calamity which has befallen him, I would suggest—without in any possible way dictating to the Government as to the order of their business, that we might, if they think it desirable out of respect to the Premier, adjourn the further consideration of the debate until he has an opportunity of being present again. The public business need not suffer; there is ample other business fore-shadowed in the Governor's speech, notably certain measures of great public importance—I allude to the public works proposals. Those matters may be dealt with, and other Government measures may be introduced, and the House so be kept in full work. It must always be remembered that whatever our private sympathies may be, we are here to represent the country. These


  ― 281 ―
public works are of very great importance, and the time might be usefully employed in their discussion. The Government will receive from this side of the House the utmost possible generous treatment, always having regard to what is due to the country, in consideration of the great calamity which has befallen the Premier.

Mr. GARRETT: I hope the Government will not accept the suggestion thrown out by the honourable member. We have entered on a debate upon a very important question in which the Premier has taken his part, so far as he has initiated it. If that debate is interrupted all that has gone before will be practically thrown away. It can be continued in the Premier's absence as well as in his presence.

Mr. BRUCE SMITH: Perhaps I may be allowed to say one or two words. I should like to assure the honourable member first of all, that I and my colleagues fully appreciate the kindly feeling which prompts him to make the suggestion; but regarding the federation question I can only say that if the desire of the Premier is to be consulted, I am quite sure, from my conversation with him last night, that he has every desire that this debate should proceed. If it should go beyond this week, then inasmuch as the Premier has the right of reply, and subsequent speeches may render it necessary that that reply should be delivered, then I should be very happy to consult him, and indicate to the House his wishes on the question; because I apprehend from the very kind speech of the leader of the Opposition that his only desire is to show regard for the Premier in this matter.

Mr. DIBBS: Hear, hear.

Mr. BRUCE SMITH: It will be time enough at the end of the week to intimate what the general desire of the Government is regarding the continuance of the debate until next week.

Though my residence is inconveniently situated for visitors from Sydney, being only accessible by ferry or a long, out-of-the-way drive, it was thronged for several


  ― 282 ―
days by callers with kind enquiries and messages of sympathy. Among the public manifestations of sympathy were addresses from the Mayor and Aldermen of Sydney, from the Chamber of Commerce, from the Senate of the University, from professional bodies, from working-men's associations, from municipal councils in all parts of the colony, and from many other societies. Among the messages from across the sea, Lord Knutsford, reading the telegrams in the London papers, wrote the morning after the accident; my old friend Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, seeking health in Switzerland, wrote from Lucerne; Sir Henry Loch from South Africa; and others from different parts of Europe and America.

But to one man, above all others, I owe a life-long debt of gratitude for his unsleeping sympathy and affectionate solicitude, which continued all the dreary time I was confined to my bed. Lord Carrington, during his stay in New South Wales, endeared himself to all classes by his frank participation in all that concerned their welfare, by his simple and unaffected manliness under all circumstances, his noble attachment to our free institutions, and his genuine love of the country and its people. To me he was more than gentle and courteous at all times, and throughout the trying illness which followed my accident, no words of mine could describe his goodness. My home is fully three miles from Government House by the shortest road, but every morning brought a mounted orderly to my door with a bright and hopeful letter from the Governor, and often with some delicacy which others never


  ― 283 ―
thought of. His Excellency had occasion to visit Victoria and Tasmania during this time, and he no sooner reached Melbourne, or Launceston, or Hobart, than a telegram came to me of the same solicitous and consoling character. The gracious lady who shared Lord Carrington's viceregal duties in Australia was equally considerate of me in my heavy affliction.

It is a pleasure to acknowledge the kind consideration I received from Mr. Dibbs and other gentlemen opposed to me in Parliament. The acrimony and bitterness which marked our unfriendly relations disappeared for a time.

I was within a few days of seventy-five years of age when this accident occurred, and I have never recovered the buoyancy of life which I had enjoyed up to the unfortunate hour of its occurrence. I still feel it as equal to the weight of many years. I know I ought to be thankful for many things—for the skill and diligent attentions of the able medical man into whose hands I fell, for the strong constitution which enabled me to beat off peril, for the tender nursing hands that never wearied of my infirmities; but it seems hard to be doomed to consider one's steps at every turn, and never more to revel in the freedom of the eagle. It cannot be long; it may be measured by the life of a little child, one, two, three, or seven years at the most. God's will be done.

My enforced absence from my place in Parliament, and from my chair in the great Department under my Ministerial control, produced effects not seen by onlookers, and not measurable by ordinary processes of


  ― 284 ―
calculation. If it had been possible, it would have been better for me to have retired into private life. A new difficulty was now before the Government.

The year 1890 proved a year, not only of disaster to myself, but of unparalleled trouble to the colony. A great strike of the workers in all branches of trade took place in Sydney, extending itself to other parts of the colony, especially among the shearers in the interior. It shook the whole fabric of commercial industry, paralysing some trades and destroying others. The sum of affliction and misery to the workers themselves must have been heavy beyond calculation. In the homes of the working class, little hoards of thrift squandered, women and children reduced to destitution, the bread-winner placed under a ban, told a woeful tale which is still ringing in the ears of many a solitary sufferer. Petty conflicts disturbed the streets, workmen were maltreated to force them to desert their employment, drivers of drays were torn from their charge, and intimidation put on a bold and savage front. There is no tyranny like that of the many-headed monster with the million hands. Away from the homes of the workers, the palatial mail steamers alongside the wharves had to resort to novel means to get to sea; great warehouses had to work all night with emergency hands to prevent a dead lock in business, and in many places work had to be carried on under a guard of armed men. Everything for a time was out of joint.

I had some advantages in dealing with this trouble. I had had more experience than any other Minister,


  ― 285 ―
or any other person in the community, in administering affairs at similar times of popular excitement. Having been at that time the Minister in charge of the military and the police, at different periods for ten years, I knew intimately the character, even to shades of capacity, of the officers at the head of these forces; and I had more knowledge than anyone else, directly and indirectly, of the leaders of the excited masses. This I could not expect others to know or to learn. Probably there is nothing in human conduct which men are slower to learn than the teachings of experience in the lives of others older than themselves. We see this eminently in the lives of great soldiers; there is always some epauletted shoulder ready to shrug itself at the mere idea of their superiority. I was still suffering severely from my broken leg, which interfered with my physical activity; I could only get about in a carriage. But I had from the day following my accident performed the routine duties of my Department by the Under-Secretary bringing to my bedside a box of papers every day, and sometimes twice a day; and the General commanding the military and the head of the police frequently saw me, and could communicate with me by telephone in a branch office close at hand. I was not surprised, because so many persons in severe difficulties had volunteered to teach me my duties, but I was deeply pained when one of my young colleagues proposed to me, apparently after consultation with other Ministers, to authorise him to communicate with the heads of the military and the police in any emergency. I simply replied that there was no occasion


  ― 286 ―
for any such step, and that I intended to keep the control of both services in my own hands. But the incident led to much unpleasantness, involving explanations to Parliament.

I must express my view here, not formed hurriedly, that it is a bad augury for the effective Ministerial action of any Government in the self-governing provinces of the Empire, when two or more Ministers consult on serious matters behind the back of their chief. It is sure to reach their leader's knowledge, directly or indirectly, often in distorted form; mutual confidence begins to be shaken; hints, dropped from motives of caution or mischief, and silent surmises, fan the small flames of jealousy or discontent, and open rupture comes. Men should seriously consider before they join a Government where leadership is a paramount condition, whether they can accept the proffered place; but having accepted it, and while they remain, there is no escape from the bond of loyalty except with dishonour.

In dealing with the strike troubles, I scrupulously adhered to the rule of careful consideration, absence of demonstrative threatening, quiet and continuous observation, and uniform civility; while I took pains to let it be silently seen that there was a reserved power to act, and quite prepared to act, if occasion should arise, for the defence of society and the maintenance of law. I never for a moment listened to the rash counsels of ‘stamping the thing out’ and ‘treading it under foot.’ I knew that the tumultuous crowds, often numbering many thousands, contained many of the best as well as some of the worst of the working population, and I


  ― 287 ―
admitted in my own mind that they had grounds of grievance and undeniable rights within lawful limits. They had been led into an unwise movement by foolish leaders. But then men in high places have suffered themselves to be misled by foolish counsellors.

I appealed to the well-disposed to enrol as special constables, and my appeal had an instant and a spirited response. Men of all grades came forward at once. A deputation of four of the Trades Union leaders waited upon me to offer four hundred picked men of their class. I pointed out to them that if I accepted men from them, I must accept men from the Employers' Union also, and that I could only accept men in their individual capacity and on their direct responsibility. Happily the strike came to an end without bloodshed, and without any grave outrage, considering how industrial relations were torn to pieces; but the traces of its ruinous effects will long remain. One officer of the Government deserves mention, Mr. Edmond Fosbery, the Inspector-General of Police, who acted throughout with great sagacity and prudence.

The Government were under a promise to introduce a revision of the tariff in the direction of a more scientific system of Free-trade taxation, and the Protectionists were loudest in clamouring for this measure, obviously with the hope that it would land us in difficulties. The Treasurer, Mr. McMillan, who felt himself specially committed to it, was anxious to introduce the Bill. But it did not appear to me that we were justified in opening the floodgates of Parliamentary strife in the midst of the great industrial crisis of the strike. I


  ― 288 ―
explained these views to a Cabinet Council, and my colleagues, including Mr. McMillan, finally concurred in their soundness. On behalf of the Government I communicated the result of the Cabinet's deliberations to the Assembly in the following statement, on October 14:—

I desire to make a short statement on behalf of the Government. I scarcely need remind anyone of the long disturbance which society has sustained owing to this unhappy strike. It has now gone on over four months. The effect has been to disturb the whole industrial life of the country. In many instances it must have produced enormous distress amongst children, and persons dependent on the bread-getters of families; and the amount of wages lost can scarcely be calculated. While that has been going on—and it is no part of my duty to express any opinion on one side or the other of the dispute—it has produced a most serious disaster, I think quite as great a misfortune to this country as if Sydney had been bombarded by a foreign fleet. I think that the country in all probability would have lost less in material wealth and in reputation by having an enemy at its doors than it has lost from the effects of this great strike. But now it has assumed a new form; it has assumed the form of an open enemy to the constituted Government of the country. The railways of this country belong to the Government—popularly to the people of the country. The railways cannot be carried on either for the purpose of business or for the convenience of the population without fuel; and the strikers have taken up the deplorable attitude of opposing themselves to the Government of the country in obtaining this fuel, which brings us in reality close upon the lines of a revolution—a very little further would plunge the country into undisguised anarchy. Well, in this state of things we have had already—God knows greatly against my wish and my feeling—to send armed forces to enable the work of getting coal for our own Government railways to be carried on, and that is going on at this time at great cost. And


  ― 289 ―
it should be remembered that the Railway Commissioners applied in the first instance—and it is humiliating to think that they had to apply—to some unauthorised persons to allow what are called Union men to get the coal for the railways. I say again it is enough to make the blood of a free man tingle to think that the Commissioners had to apply to these unauthorised persons for the permission to have this coal cut. It was refused, and, it having been refused by one section of the working population, there is arrayed against the laws of the country and against the Government another section of the working population to prevent coal being obtained by any means. I do not exaggerate— my words are not used for the sake of exciting passion—when I say that that state of things is little short of a revolution. Somebody must be master, and the Government of the country must be master. Sympathising as I do with the great bulk of my fellow-men in the honest and earnest desire to see their condition improved, I know that in this movement the only sufferers are the poor working-men themselves, their unhappy wives, and their still more unhappy children. Instances have come to my own knowledge of children almost perishing already for want of food. Well, in this state of things the Government has imposed upon it—not the men who sit on these benches, but whoever may form the Government, and the Government I apprehend, consists as much of the Houses of Parliament as of the Ministerial officers—the Government of the country has imposed upon it the maintenance of law and the protection of personal liberty, let the cost be what it may. I bring the matter now in this way before the House, after counselling the Government, as I have done, to the most moderate steps, counselling them to forbear from taking any step that would have the appearance of one-sidedness in this unfortunate struggle. Having done all that, I now appeal to this House to support the Government in doing whatever may be necessary to support the law and to maintain order. I have now to pass from this very grave matter, which I feel to be of most painful weight, and which I am sure my colleagues must equally feel of painful weight. I pass on now to communicate to the House that the


  ― 290 ―
Government has decided not to enter into any contest whatever so long as our hands are so full. The Government is composed of men who have announced to the electors that they are advocates of certain principles of fiscal policy. They stated the same thing to the House, and it is their duty, beyond all question, to adhere to those principles, and to endeavour to implant them in the policy of the country as soon as they possibly can. But they are not to attempt anything of that kind when an enemy is at our doors, or what is a thousand times worse, when we have an enemy in our midst. Nor can any harm result to anybody if what is aimed at is a righteous and sober settlement of the question. No one can want to have it settled now, especially when it can be settled within a very short time at the furthest. We cannot remain the Government except by constitutional support. We at the present time are the proper persons to declare what course we will take. We, and not persons who would relieve us of our responsibilities, are the persons to say whether we, in this state of things, will incur further disturbance, or whether we will not. It is for Parliament to say whether we are right or wrong. If we do not declare what is right, there is a power residing in Parliament to declare that we are wrong, and to punish us. We, at all events, feeling that our hands are full, feeling that every sense of patriotism, every desire to promote the true and solid interests of the country, counsel us from plunging into new difficulties at this particular time—we say that we will not do it.

Mr. COPELAND: You are political blacklegs!

Sir HENRY PARKES: All the abuse of the honourable member for New England will not affect me. I am stating in words —perhaps in impassioned words, because I feel that the occasion is one for resolute words, but still in calm words, words free from bias—I am stating what our position is, and what we have decided not to do. We believe that that is in the interests of the country; we believe that the people of the country will support us in that course. We say that we will not incur the grave responsibility of increasing the disturbance of the country until this strike is at an end. And we say that we will do our utmost


  ― 291 ―
in the meantime, if permitted, to bring that to a conclusion as early as possible; and when that is concluded, we shall be quite ready to go into any conflict such as gentlemen opposite seem to want above everything else. My object, however, was to state the grave sense we entertain of the present state of the country, and at the same time to intimate that while we are the Government we expect the support of Parliament, and at the same time to declare that we will not incur the responsibility of new public troubles for the mere sake of preserving an idle consistency.

One decision arrived at by the Government, as a consequence of this great disturbance to the relations between capital and labour, was to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate and report upon the causes of such conflicts, and to consider measures devised in other countries by the constitution of Boards of Conciliation or other similar bodies, to obviate extreme steps in trade disputes. The Commission consisted of seventeen well-known persons, of whom six belonged to the capitalist class, nine to the workers, and two—men of much information and large experience—could not be said to belong to either. The Commission held fifty-one meetings, and examined fifty-five witnesses. The following significant passage occurs in the opening of their report:—

Many investors are timid about embarking their savings in any industrial pursuit, which can at any time be brought to a stop by a strike or lock-out; and if this uncertainty could be removed there would in all probability be a great development of industry. The resources of the colony, it is admitted, are at present but very imperfectly developed, and the openings for industry are many and promising. But the spirit of enterprise is considerably damped by the unwillingness of many to set up


  ― 292 ―
at their individual risk establishments employing a considerable number of workmen, and who consequently prefer to be idle shareholders in joint-stock companies or to accept a small interest on fixed deposits at the banks rather than run the risk of losing their capital in a venture that may be ruined by strikes. The timidity that exists may be in excess of what the facts of the case justify, but savings are principally made by cautious and prudent people, and they as a class seem to be much affected by the danger to them of quarrels which they can neither prevent nor control, and which sometimes they cannot even understand.

The report then proceeds to state the existing case thus comprehensively:—

The federation of labour and the counter-federation of employers are the characteristic features of the labour question in the present epoch. A few years ago each Union was an independent organisation, though the sympathy between different trades was strong, and showed itself repeatedly in the form of subscriptions to assist other trades when their members were on strike or were locked out. But now the union of men in a trade has developed into a union of different trades together, and practical sympathy has taken the form of aiding a strike by striking also. This, of course, has the effect of increasing the area of contest, and of dragging into it persons not originally involved. It is obvious that there is no limit to this extension of any strike, except the limit of the labour organisations themselves, and what the colony has already experienced in the way of suspension of industry is only a fraction of what it might possibly experience if a more general strike took place. The difficulty in any one trade may become a cause of quarrel in many trades, and employers and workmen in no degree connected with the point at issue, and otherwise working harmoniously, may be forced into hostility. The effect of this organisation of labour has already been to draw employers together, and, though their organisations have not at present the mature experience or the proved loyalty of the labour organisations,


  ― 293 ―
and although, from the nature of the case, it is more difficult for employers to come together and to hold together than it is for workmen to do so, still the sense of danger is now so keenly felt that jealousies and rivalries are being overpowered by fear of loss. The industrial community is thus being organised into two vast camps, jealous and suspicious of each other, and preparing for a possible conflict, which, in a few months, may destroy the savings of many years. The extent to which this organisation of employers and employed has now attained gives the whole question its present public and even its national importance.

It then gives a summary of the evidence as to the origin of disputes:—

It is frankly admitted that a great many disputes originate in ignorance, in mutual misunderstanding, in unfounded suspicions, in exa gerated alarms, and that very much is gained if all these disturbing accessories can be got rid of, and the controversy can be narrowed to its simple issue. No better method of dispersing the mists that surround a controversy of the sort under our consideration can be found than a friendly conference.

The report suggests a Board of Conciliation, and states that the great weight of testimony goes distinctly to show that the existence of such a body with authority from the State would have a wholesome and moderating effect. But, though the majority of disputes would be settled by a body of this kind, there would ‘survive an irreducible residuum.’ Where conciliation fails, arbitration is to begin.

The report deals at considerable length with the different modes of constituting such bodies, enters into much historical research on the subject, and makes a


  ― 294 ―
distinct recommendation in favour of Tribunals of Conciliation and Arbitration.

The President of the Commission was Dr. Andrew Garran, to whom, for his care, patient labour, and ability in conducting this enquiry, the colony is much indebted.




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12. CHAPTER XII

THE HOLLOWNESS OF DEMOCRATIC PROFESSIONS—ABSENCE OF SETTLED OPINIONS IN WELL-TO-DO MEN—TYRANNICAL ACTIONS IN THE NAME OF LIBERTY—AUSTRALIAN TORIES—LITTLE EFFECT OF THE UNIVERSITIES ON POLITICAL LIFE—ELECTORAL REFORM—THE BILL OF 1891—IMMENSE MAJORITY ON SECOND READING—REGULATION OF COAL MINES—EIGHT HOURS FOR A WORKING DAY—THE LABOUR PARTY IN PARLIAMENT—MY LAST SPEECHES AS MINISTER, MY LAST MEASURES, AND MY LAST DEFEAT—MR. DIBBS SENT FOR—INACTIVITY—NEW OBSTACLE TO FEDERATION—SIR SAMUEL GRIFFITH'S POLYNESIAN LABOUR POLICY—THE VIEWS OF SIR THOMAS MC ILWRAITH—PROPOSED CONFERENCE—MY OWN VIEWS

THE things done and the words spoken in the name of Democracy in the fair lands of Australia which have the repellent features and the harsh tone of oppression, must be familiar to all thoughtful observers. It would almost seem that when many men talk loudly of freedom, their meaning is the freedom to trample upon the rights of their fellow-men. I have heard a self-styled democrat—a very builder of the democratic arch—declare in his place in Parliament, that if the Free-traders attempted to hold a meeting, even with locked doors, the Protectionists would burst the doors open. There was no occasion for this violence of speech, and the Free-traders were in no danger of losing their right of open discussion; but the tyrannical desire to trample down all obstacles, including reason itself,


  ― 296 ―
was there, and it was bound to find expression. Going into a very different circle you will find men carefully dressed and sumptuously fed, who are very much disposed to take a short cut to the object they wish to reach without reference to the feelings, or the reasonable wishes, or even the lawful privileges of their fellows. Going among another class—almost the opposite —you will see men savagely assail their fellows because they honestly strive in their own way, as free men, to earn the means of subsistence for their families. These propensities would hardly be worth notice, so long as human nature remains what it is, except that they manifest themselves in aggravated form where the pratings about Democracy are most offensively obtrusive. In the Legislature a restrictive ruling is splendid if it stops the right man; in the Electorate, a majority is majestic so long as it is on the right side. A little examination of one boisterous character will discover that all his wild notions of liberty spring from a laudable desire to make all men wear the same class of half-dumpling hats and to an enlightened repugnance to what he euphoniously terms a ‘bell-topper.’ And I once heard a grey-bearded Irishman defend his ill-usage of a boy on the ground that all his life long in Ireland he had been oppressed, and that his time was now come to oppress somebody else. If not, what was the good of a free country to him?

Let it not be supposed that Australia cannot supply the true species of Toryism, if Toryism means resistance to reform and pertinacious retention of class interests. It is hardly to be expected that where the


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doctrine is held of restrictive interference and coercion in supplying the wants of the human family, the kindred affiliations of tyranny will not be found in close proximity. Protection is the foster-parent of all other arbitrary devices and methods in Government, it matters not in which hemisphere or under what skies the pestilential plant takes root. The difference is that the English Tory is, as a rule, an educated man who honestly believes that he knows what is good for the people better than the people know themselves, and who openly professes what he believes, while the Australian Tory, with no claim, as a rule, to education or any other elevating quality, seeks to carry out his own will in public affairs, and to shelter himself under the cloak of Democracy.

In a country like New South Wales or Victoria, there is no class politically superior to another. Neither birth nor family influence has any recognised place. I fear it must be admitted that even education has not the weight which it ought to carry with it into the councils of the country. We hope for better things from the young men who are passing through the higher courses of academic instruction under all the patriotic influences which endear to them their native soil. But so far the Australian universities have done but little to purify the tone and elevate the standard of Parliamentary life. The leaders in the several Legislatures have mostly been men of a different training, who have been chiefly indebted for their advancement to their own native energy and intelligence. But the political sentiments engendered, and the views of government formed,


  ― 298 ―
have not always been coloured by ultra-liberalism, and would recall to the mind of the student some of the utterances in the old House of Commons during the stormy resistance to the first Reform Bill. I might give many examples, but I will confine myself to the latest. Three of the Ministers now holding office in New South Wales (June 1892) took part in the debate on the second reading of the Bill for the redistribution of seats in the Parliamentary representation in September and October 1891. The scheme of the Bill was to divide the colony into single electorates, containing equal numbers of electors, and it was argued that this division was necessary to give effect to the principle of ‘one man one vote.’

Mr. Copeland, now the Lands Minister, said:—

The principle I strongly object to in the Bill is the principle of equal representation. I do not care for Gladstone, or for 50,000 Gladstones. No man would ever make me believe it is just in a thinly scattered population like ours to have representation in proportion to the numbers. It is impossible for the people in the inland districts to have the same political power as a given number of persons say in any Sydney electorate or any suburban electorate can have.

It need hardly be pointed out that in a new country, much more than in an old, long-settled country, intelligence, and the means of intelligence, as well as wealth, and all the higher social interests, must necessarily be greater in the city than in the interior. Mr. Copeland, who claims to be a pure democrat, proceeded to give emphasis to his views in the following language:—

I say, without hesitation, that if the three Sydney electorates


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did not return one member to this Chamber, Sydney would be better represented than any other portion of New South Wales. With a full sense of responsibility, having represented East Sydney in two Parliaments, I say that if East, West, or South Sydney did not send a member, those electorates could by no possibility suffer by not being directly represented here, bearing in mind, of course, that every man, once he finds his way here, is a member for the whole colony, and not merely a member for the electorate which returned him.

Mr. Lyne, now the Public Works Minister, said:—

One great objection I have to this Bill is that the distribution of seats is to be on the basis of absolute equality of representation.

And again:—

It is a fact that, as so many members of Parliament reside in the metropolitan electorates, and take an interest in their public affairs, those constituencies possess an advantage in that respect over constituencies situated at a distance from the seat of Government.

Mr. Dibbs, the present Prime Minister, said:—

I am one of those who have been of opinion for many years past that the country is insufficiently represented in the House, and that the city and suburbs are too largely represented. If we reduce the number of members from 136 to 100, we can effect a reduction of members in connection with the city and suburbs, with their great population over small areas. Let a reduction take place in the number of representatives—42—for the county of Cumberland. That, I think, is an undue representation. I approve of the principle of one member for 2,000 electors in the country districts, and I am strongly of opinion that one member for every 4,000 electors in the city and suburbs is sufficient.

I am not concerned just now with the soundness


  ― 300 ―
or unsoundness of this doctrine on Parliamentary representation, and I freely admit it is in perfect harmony with the policy of Protection. But it must be admitted also that they both belong to the Ante-Reform era, and the gentlemen who hold these opinions ought to feel a pride in being classed with Sir Charles Wetherell and his band of Anti-Reformers of sixty years ago.

This Electoral Seats Distribution Bill was the last measure introduced by me as Minister. In my reply I spoke as follows:—

I shall, in replying, first make some reference to the views expressed by honourable members who have given their cordial assent to the Bill, and I shall commence with the honourable member for Mudgee, Mr. Jones, who based his complaint upon the circumstance that, in the reapportionment of the constituencies, the various interests of the country had not been kept together. I scarcely need remind honourable members that it would be simply impossible to keep these interests by themselves. For example, suppose there is an agricultural district having a mining population to the east of it, and a similar population to the west of it, how is it possible to link these mining communities together in one electorate? It will be seen that it is simply impossible, under any circumstances, to collect and keep these interests together, even if it were wise to do so. But men who have thought on the question of settling the representation of the people in a free country have, almost without exception, argued that it is a merit in framing a constituency to comprise within it different interests, so that one shall react upon another, and that it would be an evil to have one body, say the coal-miners, represented by themselves, and the farmers, say, by themselves. That has been the view of the thoughtful men who, in times past, on different occasions, have endeavoured to think out the true theory of


  ― 301 ―
representation, so that what the honourable member regards as a disadvantage, I venture to think is a decided advantage. If we are to carry out the principle, one man one vote—or, as I should prefer to term it, the equality of voting amongst the population, what in the world have we to do with interests, mining, or agricultural, or any other? We, according to the principle which honourable members have themselves laid down, have only to deal with men. I listened with much attention, and with much interest, to the speech delivered by the honourable member for Argyle, Mr. Rose. I think it was a very clever speech, and one deserving consideration and examination, but the less examination it has the better it will be for the speaker. The honourable member laid down this strange doctrine—that Parliament, the very name of which signifies that it is a place where men parley, was a place where speaking ought not to be indulged in; and he went further and stated—a doctrine which I am quite sure is not the birth of any true feeling of Democracy—that we who come here are simply instruments to carry out what the electors who have sent us here have already decided. According to the honourable member it is a delusion to suppose that any of the honourable gentlemen who have come here since the last election may rise, as men in all ages of the world have risen, by a wise exercise of their faculties and a brilliant exposition of their principles in speech, to the position of lawgivers or statesmen. All that business is done for them by the electors.

Mr. ROSE: Hear, hear!

Sir HENRY PARKES: I am glad to hear that I am not misrepresenting this novel and strikingly luminous doctrine, that we are only here as so many leaden pipes—and we should be very leaden pipes indeed if we contented ourselves with that function—to carry out what some other men have designed, or in other words that the laws of the country are made by the electorate, and that that electorate sends delegates here who have to give effect to what it has decided. I do not believe that any of the new schools of thought in this young country have many disciples who would accept this new doctrine. I


  ― 302 ―
do believe that of all the multitudinous schools that have arisen lately, the Rose school, even if you call it by any other name, would not be the sweetest. I was surprised at the honourable and venerable gentleman who leads the Opposition. Not only the experience derived from his occupancy of my office, but that teaching which ought to accompany length of years, should have taught him differently. The honourable member's idea of the great principle of reform is to reduce the number of members to 100. Why not reduce the number to ninety or eighty? I should like to know where he would begin if he held the office I hold. He would think twice before he would reduce it by one.

Mr. DIBBS: If the honourable member wants to know where I would begin I will tell him. I would pension off the honourable member!

Sir HENRY PARKES: I do not think that would be a wise thing. In the first place I am not worth being pensioned off, in the next place the honourable member would set a very evil example in this democratic age when we are going to sweep all pensions away, in the third place he would not make one single foot in advance if I were removed from watching over him, so that it would be a three-fold blunder to pension me off, and it would be quite unnecessary. However, his great reform is to reduce the number of members to 100. You might reduce the number to 100, but so long as the honourable member for Grafton and ten or eleven more were here there would be as much talk as ever.

An HONOURABLE MEMBER: Especially the honourable member for Argyle (Mr. Rose)!

Sir HENRY PARKES: Well, I do not complain of the honourable member for Argyle, because he does not speak very often, and if he does not always say something wise, he invariably says something very curious. But if you want to save talk, and will allow me to reduce the number by twelve, I will save all the talk, because the over-talk in this House is confined to about twelve members, and unless in your reduction you take care to exclude them, there would be more talk than ever, with


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less chance of its being circumvented by sound sense. It is an entire mistake to suppose that numbers necessarily lead to floods of talk. That is abundantly proved both by the great pattern of all representative assemblies, the House of Commons, and by that illustrious body, the Senate of the United States. The talk there is not in proportion to the numbers. In the House of Commons there are nearly 700 members, and on a great occasion the speaking is done sometimes by eight or ten members, and in that Parliament there are hundreds of members with gifted powers of speech, of high qualifications from the universities, but they know that it is necessary, in order to the despatch of business, not to take up time in saying what others have said. There is a refutation at once—the completest that could be given to the assertion that mere numbers create this terrible inundation of wishy-washy, thoughtless talk. The honourable member for The Murrumbidgee, catching, I suppose, the infection from the honourable member for New England, spoke about the city and suburbs being over-represented, and the country districts under-represented. Well, this is no new doctrine; but it is very welcome to me, as it affords overwhelming evidence that we have in this Assembly a genuine old Tory party, and it is represented, by confession, by the honourable member for New England, Mr. Copeland, the honourable member for The Murrumbidgee, Mr. Dibbs, and the honourable member for The Hume, Mr. Lyne. In the opposition to the first Reform Bill, it was held that the great towns of Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool, which at that time had no single member in the House of Commons, did not want members, that they were represented by the other members living in the neighbourhood of Westminster Hall, that they were represented by their means of easy communication. And just the very doctrines, and in the very same words, which were thundered against the Reform Bill by the old boroughmongers, are reproduced here against this Bill of mine. Coming back to the time in this House, before we had a Constitution, when sheep and cattle alone were represented in the old Council which made the laws of the country—I have sat in the gallery


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myself and heard the members in those days bringing forward exactly these arguments, in exactly this language: that Sydney did not deserve any members; it was sufficiently represented by other members living in its midst; it was sufficiently represented by its power of organisation; it was sufficiently represented if it had no member at all. That is the doctrine which is promulgated now by the leaders of Her Majesty's Opposition; and they have proved out of their own mouths that they, talking of Democracy, are really in their hearts and in their souls as big Tories as ever sat in the old boroughmongering days of England, or as ever sat in the old Council here which was nominated by the Crown. I pronounce every man who holds this doctrine to be a Tory in his heart, let him say what he may. Why, what is your doctrine?—one man one vote. But in the metropolitan boroughs these democrats who are crying out ‘One man one vote!’ would promulgate this doctrine: one man no vote at all. That is exactly what they say. Now, if you are going to set up a standard of Democracy, be true to your own professions. If you are going to have men—and men alone—represented, 2,000 men in Sydney are as much entitled to their votes as 2,000 men in The Murrumbidgee, or in any other part of the country; and the moment you depart from that settled principle, that moment you cast to the winds your boasted principle of democratic representation. Be true. If you want property represented, say so; but do not go prating about the country of one man one vote, and here in your places endeavour to prevent men from having any vote at all. The honourable member wants an undue proportion of representation for one set of men against another set of men; what will the world think of his mere denial, which is not worth a rap? Facts speak with an eloquence with which neither he, nor I, nor any man here can speak. The honourable member says plainly that he wants an advantage for one set of electors in this country which he will not give to another set of electors. I say this: that if you are true democrats, if you wish to accomplish a just and equal reform, you must stand up for 100 men in one part of the colony having the same rights as 100 men


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in any other part of the colony. There is no other possible condition in legislation of this kind. We are not legislating now on any other hypothesis whatever. Everybody knows that where human contact is most possible, where mind can most closely and readily impinge upon mind, there and there only is the highest volume of thought evolved. Everybody knows that. It is natural, it is inevitable, wherever human souls are congregated together. But this gentleman, shocked at the least possible volume of enlightenment, wants to give to those who have not the same blessings a higher degree of representation. Then the honourable member (Mr. Copeland) said that this country could not submit to single electorates, because the population was of a shifting character. I will appeal to the common sense of any gentleman who is listening to me whether a double electorate, or an electorate of three members, would in any way modify the shifting of the population? The population would shift just the same, and it has no more to do in the chain of cause and effect with single electorates than it has to do with the moon.

Mr. COPELAND: The honourable gentleman is misquoting me. I did not refer to that with reference to single electorates, but with reference to the expansive clauses. This is an iron-bound Bill.

Sir HENRY PARKES: As the honourable member has introduced this question of the expansive clauses, I may say that objection can be met at once by the introduction of the expansive clauses. I do not object to that for a moment.

Mr. COPELAND: That will remove one difficulty!

Sir HENRY PARKES: But I see a great ground of objection on the part of those who object to numbers, because the expansive clauses are of no value unless they are acted upon to enlarge the number of the Assembly, so that they cannot be of any value to those who are opposed to the present number of representatives. The honourable member simply stated, in calm, measured tones, in the most prosaic set of words, that he objected to equal representation.

Mr. COPELAND: Hear, hear!




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Sir HENRY PARKES: I have not misquoted the honourable member; he objects to equal representation.

Mr. COPELAND: Equal proportional representation.

Sir HENRY PARKES: I thought we were elected to bring about equal representation. I thought that was our object. That is my object in this Bill, and my prime object, and all the provisions of the Bill tend to carry it out, or have been framed with a desire of their tending to carry out a system of equal representation. And if we are sincere in our advocacy of the principle of one man one vote, we must at all hazards, and by every means in our power, carry out a plan of simple and just equality in representation. The honourable member for New England is very peculiar in one thing. In his speeches, which always have strength, he has a strange faculty for substituting mere assertion for argument. He says, for example, ‘No one will make me believe the principle to be equitable.’ I should never expect to make the honourable member believe anything unless he was determined to believe it. He makes this bald announcement of his individual belief or unbelief, which, no doubt, is extremely interesting, and he makes it do service in the place of argument. He has not shown that single electorates would do any harm. He has not shown that they would in any way interfere with the disturbance of population on the outbreak of a gold discovery. That disturbance will take place, let your electorates be of whatever character they may; and that disturbance, like the law of necessity, knows no bounds, and all that a legislature can do is to rectify the disturbance as soon as there are evidences of a settled population in that part of the country. I will not indulge in any further argument in support of the Bill. It has always been announced as part and parcel of the measure of electoral reform. In the first Electoral Bill we introduced or embodied the redistribution of seats. The Bills were separated on this occasion, as we thought to afford a better opportunity for a fair discussion of the redistribution of seats. It was thought that there would be a good deal of difference of opinion upon this entirely new and radical change, and we thought it would be better to have


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that matter discussed so that it should not embarrass the machinery of what we may call truly the Electoral Bill. I have explained the course the Government adopted in parcelling out the country into these electorates. If any one of us had undertaken to do the work himself, and had allowed political prejudices, and even just political leanings, to influence the matter, there might have been some ground for cavil at us. But we took the course best calculated to give to our scheme a character above suspicion. We took the course of getting the most competent man to do the work, leaving to his judgment the division of electorates without attempting in any way, by instructions or even conversation, to influence him. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the result is a singularly happy one. I went last night to members who represent three different electorates, and who are not friendly to me, politically speaking. I asked these gentlemen, whether they had any complaint to make, and, virtually, they said they had none. I do not believe, inasmuch as very few persons have sought in any way to interfere with what has been done, that there is any serious feeling of dissatisfaction. But I wish to ask one question. What man or what set of men could have gone through this difficult and responsible task without displeasing someone? Is it possible that this great task of taking the whole of this vast territory, and parcelling it out into entirely new electorates, could have been performed, having regard to the character of the human mind, without causing some dissatisfaction, and the small amount of dissatisfaction which our step has caused speaks eloquently of the impartiality and honesty with which this arduous and difficult work has been done. The two Bills must stand together; the one is the natural complement of the other. It would be an absurdity, such as I do not believe this great Assembly would be guilty of, to create a new machinery for the representation of the people, and to place it upon the rotten foundation of the thing we are trying to sweep away.

Mr. LYNE: And which the honourable gentleman created!

Sir HENRY PARKES: I suppose the honourable gentleman thinks that is a severe observation. I was the author of the


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present electoral law. It was a great change for the better at the time; it was a very great advance; and it was all that was practicable then. This measure of ours, comprised in two Bills, aims at a thorough, a complete, an organic change; it aims at depriving many men of a power at the ballot-box which is not extended to every other man; it aims at bringing into the pale of the Constitution hundreds and thousands of men who are now practically excluded; it aims at bringing about a most wholesome system of originating the right to vote —that of self-registration; and, above all, it aims at doing away with those constituencies where one elector can vote for two, three, and four members. On the whole, I venture to say that this is as large, as liberal, and as beneficial a measure of reform, in the direction of bringing about a fair representation of a free people as was ever submitted to any legislature in the British Empire.

The second reading was carried by 79 to 11 votes, Mr. Dibbs voting with the majority, and Mr. Copeland and Mr. Lyne among the eleven. In three weeks afterwards I and my colleagues were out of office.

For a variety of reasons I received my release with a feeling of joyful satisfaction. There was much to be done which I should have rejoiced in endeavouring to do, if the path before us had been open and free from ambushes—if we could have entertained a reasonable hope that we should receive such support as honourable men could accept. But the position in which the Government found itself placed was to me almost insupportable. The Labour members—some thirty in number, in a House of 141 members—decided to support us at the opening of the Session, but they gave their support after a manner of their own, and very much as an ungracious man gives charity. Even in


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dealing with measures of which they approved, they seemed to find an offensive satisfaction in trying to compel the Government to take their course rather than its own. The division which decided us to retire afforded a fair illustration of this purely captious feeling.

A Bill for the regulation of the working of Coal Mines had been so altered in committee that it was reported with a clause fixing the hours for labour, with an allowance for a meal-time, at something like seven and a half. Mr. McMillan, the late Treasurer, moved the recommittal of the Bill to reconsider this clause. On this motion an angry debate ensued, and late in the evening Mr. Barton, the present Attorney-General, who at that time sat on the Ministerial benches, moved that the debate be adjourned. The Ministers accepted Mr. Barton's motion in order that they might gain time for consultation. The Minister of Mines himself (in charge of the Bill) appealed to his friends to consent to the adjournment as a concession of fair play to him. The Labour members approved of the Bill without exception, but they could not resist the temptation to humiliate the Government they were supporting, and they voted against the adjournment to the number of 22 in a House with 51 members absent, many of them with a sneering laugh on their faces. The result was that the Ministers thought they had had enough of this sort of treatment, and they resigned, and the Bill went with the Ministers.

In the course of this debate I made the following speech:—




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This Bill has a history very peculiar, so far as I am concerned. Though I am at the head of the present Ministry, I am not responsible for this Bill, and I wish to make that distinctly clear. When this Bill was in committee in the last Parliament, I was lying on a sick bed in peril of my life. In my absence, when it was hardly possible for me even to read the reports, my colleague, the Secretary for Mines and Agriculture, assented to the introduction of the eight-hours principle in the Bill. Now, before I take up the history of the Bill from that point, I desire to be distinctly understood on the character and principles of a piece of legislation of this kind. I hold that the duty of the legislature is to take every precaution which wisdom and humanity can dictate to preserve the health of men working in mines, to protect their lives, and to afford them the amplest security. I recognise the exceptional danger of the avocation, and this Bill was introduced with the twofold object of giving all fair guarantees to men possessed of capital in their investments, and at the same time to preserve the rights and the health of the persons employed in the coal mines. The principle of eight hours was introduced in the peculiar way which I have explained. Now, with regard to the apportionment of time in the lives of men who labour. I cannot be suspected of being an enemy to the eight hours system, for I was the first man of any position whatever in this country who advocated eight hours as a day's labour. Thirty-five years ago, before any other public man supported it—and before some of the men who are listening to me were born—I presided at a large public meeting, the first ever held here, to advocate eight hours as a sufficient time for men labouring under an Australian sky. I say here, what I have said many a time and often, that civilisation itself would lose its charm and its value to me if it did not lighten the burden of those who labour, if it did not lighten the burden of the masses of humanity. I trust the time will come when, in the progress of enlightenment, the necessity for toil will be greatly reduced. I can see no satisfactory object in the ordinary course of moral development if that does not come about. But I distinguish very broadly between eight hours being sufficient for


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a man to labour and Parliament presuming to say how many hours he shall labour. The economic question of how long a man shall labour in the twenty-four hours disappears from my mind when you conjure up some power of Parliament, which I deny exists, to fix the hours of a man's labour. If that creature, endowed with divine capacity, a human being, who we are told on the highest authority was created in the image of God himself, has any right in the whole world, it is the right to dispose of the attributes of his own life so long as he injures no other human being. I deny that any human institution such as Parliament has the moral power to limit the time he thinks well to labour. It seems to me that the question of what is a sufficient period for toil disappears altogether, and another question arises, whether Parliament has the right to say to a man, ‘You shall labour eight hours, but no longer?’ If it has that right, it has the right also to say, ‘You shall labour eighteen hours.’ The question is not whether eight hours or ten hours shall be a day's labour, but whether Parliament has the right to say to a human creature—a creature endowed with the divine capacity of reason—‘You shall work for a given number of hours.’ If you once establish that, you establish not the eight hours system, but the right of Parliament to fix ten hours, twelve hours, fourteen hours, or any number of hours as a day's labour. It is because I feel that is an act of tyranny—which I deny that any Parliament in the world has the moral right to perform—that I am opposed to fixing the hours of labour by legislation. Nor is it wanted. The working-classes of this country are sufficiently strong to make good—indeed they have made good—their will to work eight hours without asking Parliament to prostitute itself, to exercise a power which in all moral justice it does not possess, to say how many hours a man endowed with reason is to labour. The true freedom of a man is to dispose of his time and of his faculties as best accords with his own convenience, and to violate that freedom is an act of tyranny—a Parliament may do it, but a Parliament has often done most wicked and abominable things, and it cannot do this thing without violating the laws of God,


  ― 312 ―
which made man absolutely free to do the best he can for himself. Hence, then, while I would go with the workers—that is, with the masses of my fellow human creatures—to lighten their burden to the utmost of my power by all moral means, and while I contend that moral means are sufficient, I deny the moral right of any Parliament under the sun to fix the hours of labour. Now I come to this Bill. On my sick bed, when I could not leave it, I remonstrated with my colleague at what was then done, and I told him the other evening that we could not go beyond what had been already done. I explained to him that it was quite justifiable to limit the hours of labour, to prevent injury to growing youth. I agree to that entirely. I entirely concur in limiting the hours of labour in the case of growing youth. It is necessary to prevent injury to their health. The community has an interest in the sound growth of the rising generation. It is desirable that every child should become a healthy and strong man or woman, and for the sake of society, as well as individuals, the principle of the English Factories Act is perfectly justified. I go further than that; I am willing to limit the hours of labour for adults who have to work in an atmosphere inimical to health. I entirely concur in that; but I draw the widest possible distinction between that and statutory regulation as to how a hale, ordinary man should dispose of his time under the ordinary circumstances of society. I hold no opinion stronger, I believe in no principle as more sound, than in the liberty of every individual man to regulate his own life and to dispose of his own time. I am not going to raise any question concerning industrial organisations. They have taken root and have spread largely, and in many respects I believe they have worked admirably. I am raising no question as to industrial organisations for the support of the sons of toil, but, rising above all considerations of that kind, is the individuality of human existence, and I contend that it is not in the power of any man, or set of men, to interfere with the right of a respectable, industrious, and well-meaning citizen as to how he shall dispose of his time. In that question, as I understand it, I am at issue altogether with my honourable friend


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who spoke last, and also with those great industrial organisations which are trying to give legal validity to this period of eight hours; but if my voice can be accepted as expressing a warning, I would warn them that in seeking from the legislature a definition of eight hours, they only establish the principle that the legislature has the right to fix the hours whether they be eight, ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen, or eighteen. You do not fix the time at eight hours for ever; you fix it for a moment; it can be altered to-morrow, and extended or decreased; and when you do it you give to the legislature a power which was never intended, which is not amongst its functions, which is contrary to the laws of God, and to the laws of human freedom. Now, in regard to this Bill, some of the provisions in it are such that, so far as I am concerned, I would rather retire from office to-morrow morning than give my assent to them. Retiring from office is of no consequence either to me or to anybody else; but to assent to what I believe to be false and dangerous principles is a matter of the highest importance to us and to our posterity. If one thing is necessary, it is that we should establish clear and definite principles in the laws of the country. A principle is a thing very different from any arrangement of expediency. The object of the Government was, if possible, to carry a measure for the healthy regulation of the coal-mining industry; to do all that we thought the necessity of the case required, to look carefully to the interests of the workers, but not to overlook the interests of the employers. If the party of labour in this House claim that they are acquainted with labour, so am I. If any of them have worked hard, so have I. If any of them have suffered severely, so have I. If any of them have gone through hard and necessitous circumstances, so have I. I worked at as hard labour as a man could put his hand to in this country for 5s. a day—when the price of a four lb. loaf was 2s. 8d. That ought to have taught me what my sympathies should be in reference to my fellow-creatures. I believe that, to the best of my strength, I have struggled for their good. I am not conscious that I have had any single occasion when I could serve the cause of the greatest number of my fellow-creatures, and have


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failed to serve it. If anyone should reply to me, that I did such and such a thing at a time of commotion and tumult, my answer would be that, charged with the responsibilities of government, I should do the same again to-morrow. But I have, to the best of my power, tried to serve the masses of my fellowmen since I have occupied a public position in this country. I believe I am serving their interests best in preserving them from this delusion: that it is possible for them, by Act of Parliament, to fix the number of hours which shall constitute a day's labour. As I have just said, you may establish the principle that Parliament has the right to regulate labour, but you cannot fix the time, except for the occasion. I implore the House to think twice before they establish what, I conceive, is a violation of the principle of human freedom. But, supposing that it were a right thing—that is, supposing that it were a wise thing in the interest of the masses of humanity—to fix the hours for a day's labour by Act of Parliament, surely it ought to be done by a special statute. Surely no man who hears me would say that it ought not to be done by a special enactment, when the subject could be fairly discussed—when it could be debated without the inconvenience of any serious impingement on other provisions, which we all admit to be good and necessary. Surely that is reasonable. I think it is an unwise, an impolitic, and a dangerous thing at any time to seek to introduce violent changes in a Bill not intended to carry out any changes of the kind. With regard to this Bill, I agree to a large extent with many of the arguments advanced by my honourable friend the late Treasurer; and so far as I am concerned, having been absent compulsorily when the Bill assumed this form, and absent again when the principle was extended the other night, I shall not hesitate, whatever my colleagues do, to support the honourable member who has moved the recommittal of the Bill. As far as we are concerned, we ought, in the interests of the gentlemen who seem to take the most interest in this measure, to try to send it to the other Chamber in such a shape as would make it fairly acceptable. We ought to send our measures to the other Chamber without any feature which would unnecessarily provoke


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hostility, and especially in the consideration of a measure of this kind, which is not of a political character, and which ought not to awaken any very angry feelings. We ought, if possible, to avoid any feature in the Bill which would endanger its passing through Parliament and becoming law. It was the desire of the Government, as my colleagues behind me know, that this Bill should have become law during the last Parliament. It did not become law, and it is our desire that it should become law now; and if there is any delay or mishap, we, the introducers of the Bill, cannot be held responsible. As for the amendments that have been introduced, I neither dispute the right to introduce them, nor for a moment do I doubt the good motives of those who introduced them; but I believe that they ought not to have appeared in this Bill, and in any Bill one of them at least, I think, could never be sustained by fair argument, and never would receive the countenance of persons who have closely investigated the principles which ought to be implanted in the institutions of civil society. I should like to know what Mr. Herbert Spencer would say about this question.

Mr. J. D. FITZGERALD: Smother him. What has he got to do with it?

Sir HENRY PARKES: Who is it that says smother him?

Mr. J. D. FITZGERALD: Smother his opinion. Is his opinion to influence this House? Are we intelligent men, or are we to be insulted?

Sir HENRY PARKES: I once, some thirty years ago, had a conversation with Thomas Carlyle. He told me, in the course of that conversation, that he in youth had been charmed by Burns's utterance that

The man's the gowd for a' that.

But, said that wise man—and you cannot smother him; he is in his grave—I have since found out how completely hollow is the dictim in Burns's verse. The man is not the gold; but is often very base metal, indeed, and one man is so far from being equal to another as not to be a thousandth part equal to another.


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And so it is. In this House we are all equal; but if the honourable member who interrupted me in such a pleasant manner were to live to be a thousand years of age, in all probability he would never accomplish one single great good for his fellow-creatures. I do not appreciate—I have never seen any reason to appreciate—

Mr. J. D. FITZGERALD: That is what they used to say about the honourable member!

Sir HENRY PARKES: The honourable member rudely interrupted me in a way which I think I ought not to be interrupted; in a way which was quite irrelevant to the course of my speech. I simply have to say that because an honourable member is elected to this House he does not thereby become anything more than he was before his election.

Mr. J. D. FITZGERALD: I do not claim it!

Sir HENRY PARKES: Suppose I went out of this House tomorrow—and I should be very glad if I could—I should be just the same Henry Parkes that I am now.

An HONOURABLE MEMBER: We should miss the honourable member!

Sir HENRY PARKES: I do not know that anyone would miss me; but my influence in this country would be just as great, possibly much greater, my province for good would possibly be much larger, if I were relieved from office and from a seat in this House. Election to the House makes no difference whatever. If any of the gentlemen who have got into the House recently think that that makes them anything other than what they were the day before, they are under a great mistake. Conspicuous station does one thing: it brings under the observation of all mankind who are near enough to gaze, the real qualities of the person who occupies that station; and unless he has powers and faculties to rise to the level of the station he has attained, it only does him an injury, and tends to sink him into that obscurity to which sooner or later he is sure to return. In making these observations—which have been called from me by the interruption of the honourable member—let me for a moment remind the honourable member that I have seen the election of


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everybody to the Parliament of this country. I have seen them appear and I have seen their disappearance. I have seen them come up the hill, and I have seen them go down again. I have seen them disappear never to be heard of again. From the assembling of the first Parliament until this day it has been my bitter fortune to watch the beginning of each session and the end of each session; and having sat in every Parliament, I have seen what became of persons who for a time made a great stir in the political atmosphere. One thing is certain, there is no rock for us but those principles which are immortal, and which cannot be injured by any mere contrivance. True principles live for ever, and one of those principles is the inalienable right to freedom of every human being who is brought into this world, and anyone who makes an assault upon this individual freedom, whether he knows it or not, is in his heart and soul in all essential respects as great a tyrant as the Emperor Nero. Tyranny is an arbitrary interference with your fellow-men, the compelling of your fellow-men to do a thing which their honest reason and just judgment tell them they ought not to do, and whether it is in the guise of a manifesto from a trades-union or the edict of an autocrat, it is tyranny just the same in all its elements. And freedom is the power, uninterfered with by anybody, untouched by anybody, protected by honest laws, for every man born into a free state to do what he thinks best for his own individual advancement and the advancement of his fellows.

Mr. Barton's motion for the adjournment of the debate was negatived by 49 to 41 votes. It did not appear that any serious thought was entertained of critical consequences. Several members of the Opposition voted with the Government, but the Labour members, capriciously voting with the small knot of mischief-brewers, gave the majority of eight against us. Ministers met in Cabinet on the following Monday, and all concurred in the view that the most dignified course


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for ourselves, and the one most likely to prove conductive to the true interests of Parliamentary Government, would be to retire. When the House met in the afternoon, October 19, I made known our decision in the following statement:—

It will be borne in mind that, in moving the adjournment of the House on Thursday night, I intimated that the Government attached much importance to the vote which had just previously been taken. Time, since then, on account of the House not meeting again until to-day, has afforded Ministers the fullest opportunity to consider the situation. We of course fully recognise that the motion made was not one which need necessarily affect the existence of the Ministry. But we had spoken on the motion of the adjournment of the debate, moved by the honourable member, Mr. Barton, and in face of what the Secretary for Mines and Agriculture, more especially, said, the House was pleased to defeat the motion by a majority of eight. We recognise that those motions which affect the existence of Ministries naturally divide themselves into two classes. One class are of a character which necessarily compels the resignation of a Ministry unless circumstances justify an appeal to the people—such, for example, as direct votes of want of confidence and direct votes of censure. Another class of motions which may seriously affect the Government do not partake of this character. They do not necessarily compel a resignation; but they place the Ministers of the day in this position—that they are fully justified in determining their own course. A Ministry would not be justified in retiring from office under ordinary circumstances, however much that Ministry might desire retirement. But a motion such as that of Thursday night fully justifies the men forming the Government to look upon their own position and elect their own course out of the unpleasantness. We, as I have said, have had ample time to consider the situation—to consider whether we are under any obligation to continue the administration of affairs,


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and we have arrived at the conclusion that the situation in which we have been placed entirely justifies us, in the interests of our own reputations, and what is of much more importance, in the interests of the country and in the interests of Parliamentary Government, in not proceeding further with the attempt to manage the affairs of this country. There are certain lengths to which men may go from a desire to carry certain measures, and I do not disguise from the House or from the country that there are matters pending before this Parliament which are very very dear to me. Still there is something of much higher moment and of much higher concern, and that is to preserve that standard of self-respect and that sense of honour which are essential to governing a country to the satisfaction of, and with usefulness to, the people of that country. Ministers met this morning, and after a very brief statement from me, embodying the substance of what I have just said, they unanimously, and without a word of discussion, agreed with my view that our proper course was to resign office. I at once proceeded to Government House and tendered to His Excellency the Governor our resignations, and we now hold office until our successors are appointed. Just before I came here I received from His Excellency a note informing me that he had sent for the honourable member for The Murrumbidgee, Mr. Dibbs, to form a new administration, and asking me, at Mr. Dibbs's request, to move that this House do adjourn until to-morrow, and I now make that motion.

Mr. Dibbs, who received his commission on the Monday, did not succeed in completing his Ministry until the following Thursday. Mr. Barton, who had not been in very cordial relations with Mr. Dibbs, was not even communicated with for two or three days.

Since my resignation in October, 1891, I have taken little part in public affairs. I have been a hard worker for fully seventy years—from my early childhood; and before leaving office I felt a weight of weariness almost


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insupportable, and a sense of unhandsome treatment where I ought to have found support; and naturally I have had little desire since to return to active participation in political warfare.

During the stormy time I remained in office after the rising of the Federation Convention, I had no possible opportunity of taking any effective step in the cause of Australian union, owing to circumstances affecting the Government from within and from without; and on that account alone I felt a profound regret in retirement. The other Australian Governments which were represented in the convention have done nothing. But some of them have done much to create obstacles to union. It is impossible for any true believer in Federation to view without apprehension the resuscitated movement in favour of the importation of coloured labour.

There has always been a hankering among the large Australian employers, more especially those connected with pastoral pursuits, for cheap labour. First the Imperial convict was preferred to the free immigrant; then the Indian coolie, then the South Sea Islander, had the preference. Fully forty-five years ago the late Benjamin Boyd fitted out vessels for the labour trade among the Islands. As far back as 1854 a Select Committee of the old Legislative Council was appointed on my motion to enquire into the subject of Asiatic labour as carried out in the northern parts of the colony, now Queensland. The revival of the subject at the present time is not by any means new, though it is new in some of its present phases. Polynesian labour has been tried


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in Queensland, and formally given up after trial. The present Prime Minister, Sir Samuel Griffith, exerted himself vigorously to bring it to an end, and strongly argued against it both on industrial and constitutional grounds. I recollect a conversation in his presence when I happened to think of the difficulty of white men doing the labour required in the tropical parts of Queensland, upon which Sir Samuel sharply interposed with the words, ‘Who says they can't do it?—I say they can!’ The revival of the traffic after all this by Sir Samuel Griffith himself is therefore a surprise to most people at a distance.

Sir Samuel Griffith publicly recanted, and completely turned round from his former stand on the question, but those associated with him hold the same opinion now as they formerly held. While this movement is started afresh in Queensland, similar hankerings after cheap labour are showing themselves in South Australia. That colony, struggling with the unwieldy northern territory unhappily tacked on to her, finds herself in a worse plight than the Siamese twins. One voice cries to the East, while the other appeals to the West. She would, and she would not. It is delightful to feel free, but it is convenient to have at hand a servile class. The bewildered Prime Minister, looking abroad, thinks he sees a similar bait to that which is tempting Queensland. If Queensland must have her Polynesians, why not a goodly batch of Indian coolies for the northern territory? But it would be a fine stroke of oriental policy to induce the great colonies of New South Wales and Victoria, who have no earthly concern in the


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unsavoury business, to join in a mock consideration of it. So South Australia proposes a conference, and New South Wales and Victoria, for some inscrutable reason, give their assent.note But Queensland shows mettle, and stands upon her rights. Sir Samuel Griffith declines to submit the decision which has been ratified by his Parliament to an ‘irresponsible conference;’ and after much clumsy pressure has been brought to bear upon him in vain, he finally sends this telegram to South Australia:—

I am not aware of any instance in which a conference has considered matters involving contentious political questions, upon which party feeling runs high in the several colonies, and on which a strong difference of opinion exists. So far from the discussion of such matters at a conference, followed by the formal expression of the collective opinion in the form of resolutions, tending to promote federation, I think it would have the contrary effect. The colonies immediately interested are South Australia, West Australia, and Queensland. Although we would willingly submit the matter to a federal authority with responsibility or power to give effect to its conclusions, I do not think an expression of opinion by an irresponsible conference, even if it were representative and certainly expressed the opinion of the colonies, would be accepted by the supporters or opponents of either view in the colonies whose legislatures are charged with the responsibility of action. The representatives of the colonies are not immediately interested, and could have neither a full sense of responsibility nor sufficient information. Whether, therefore, the collective resolutions of the conference favoured the introduction of coloured labour or not, I think public opinion would not be affected, but the respective legislatures


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would, I think, be bound to follow their own opinion. The importance of the question is a reason for establishing a federal authority to deal with it, but not, we think, for calling a conference, the functions of which are entirely dissimilar.

Nine days after that, on June 12, Sir Thomas M‘Ilwraith arrived in Sydney, and on the same evening he permitted himself to be ‘interviewed’ by a gentleman connected with the ‘Sydney Morning Herald.’ These are some of the views expressed by Sir Thomas, then holding the office of Treasurer in the Queensland Ministry:—

Do you (the reporter enquired) hold that there is a real need for the reintroduction of kanaka labour into Queensland?

Yes, and the necessity is proved by two facts; the immediate closing of the industry in the past and the prospect of only coloured labour being disallowed in the colony according to the Act of 1885, and also from the fact, proved in every sugargrowing district in the colony, that white men will not do the field work in tropical agriculture. This has been tried over and over again by the planters in almost every district, and with almost uniform failure. I do not mean to say that, physically, European labour is not able to tackle such work; but, if done, it would be at the expense of health and constitution, and the men would ultimately give way. As a matter of fact, however, white men will not do the field work, even at wages which are quite outside the power of the planters to give.

You say, positively, that white men cannot do the work?

They cannot do it for any length of time—they would reduce themselves to blackfellows.

In what respect do you mean?

In working in a climate unsuited to their constitution.

What wages have white men received in the past for the work proposed to be taken up by the kanakas?

As a matter of fact, white men have never been employed at it. They have left it as soon as they have entered upon it.




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Then is it a fact that those who have gone so far as to take it up have relinquished it immediately after the first pay-day, never to return to it?

I would not say ‘after the first pay-day,’ but after they have had a little experience of it—perhaps a few months.

Have you any idea at what rate of pay they were engaged?

I know a case at the present time where the unemployed at Townsville have refused an engagement for six months, at 1l. a week and board and lodging, on a sugar-plantation.

May it be supposed that these unemployed men would have undertaken the work if larger wages had been offered?

I don't believe they could do the work, except temporarily. Of course, too high wages make the industry impossible, because, in tropical industries, the labour in tropical countries has to be competed with.

Are you prepared to say kanaka labour could with advantage be employed in the colonies generally?

No; I do not believe in it being employed generally. I only believe in it for tropical agriculture. In all the pastoral districts west of the main range—which is about seven-eights of Queensland—white labour is much more suitable for the work.

As to the number of kanakas which may be introduced into the colony—is any limit contemplated?

There is to be no limit, except the wants of the colony.

Can you say what is about the extent of those wants?

They would try materially the resources of the Polynesian Islands in time. It has been proved repeatedly from statistics, by men thoroughly acquainted with the subject, that one kanaka gives employment for two white men, directly and indirectly.

Who have been the losers by the temporary cessation of the traffic in kanaka labour in Queensland?

The sugar-planters and the general community.

To what extent has the employment of kanaka labour in Queensland in the past, in your opinion, benefited that colony— I mean financially?

I could not tell you that. Generally speaking, the cultivation


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of sugar was one of the most successful industries in the colony, and was very profitable to the colony. But the late failure of sugar-planting in Queensland was due, not only to the laws connected with labour, but to the reduction throughout the world in the price of sugar of late years.

Are you altogether in accord with the position taken up by Sir Samuel Griffith in the matter?

Yes: thoroughly.

What are your views with regard to the proposed Intercolonial Conference?

The situation is thoroughly explained in the telegrams which have been despatched by Sir Samuel Griffith, in which I completely concur.

You object, I understand, to the wisdom of the action of the Government and Parliament of Queensland in this matter being questioned by the other colonies?

Until federation occurs, every colony should take the responsibility of legislating on its own questions.

The employment of coolie labour is involved in this connection, is it not?

These two classes of labour are quite distinct. If South Australia desires to legislate on coolie labour for the benefit of that colony, the proper course is for her to accept the responsibility of taking that step alone. If her legislation were to affect detrimentally the other colonies, no doubt she would hear of it in a legitimate way. At present, to shift her present political difficulties from the colony to a convention, which would, almost to a certainty, not express the opinions of the colonies, would show her weakness.

It will be observed that Sir Thomas is not quite positive in the opinions he explains. He will not say that ‘European labour is not able to tackle such work.’ By doing the work they would ‘reduce themselves to blackfellows.’ ‘White men have left the work as soon as they have entered upon it;’ this, however, is


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afterwards explained to mean, ‘after they have had a little experience of it—perhaps in a few months.’ Sir Thomas does not think Polynesian labour could be advantageously employed in the colony generally, and ‘only believes in it for tropical agriculture.’ He admits, too, that the system of importing Polynesian labour for what he calls the ‘tropical agriculture’ of Queensland would ‘try materially the resources of the Polynesian islands in time’—that is, it would drain away, largely by disease and death, the male inhabitants, leaving the females to their obvious fate. Sir Thomas commits himself to the monstrous fallacy that ‘one kanaka gives employment to two white men directly and indirectly.’ As the so-called ‘kanaka’ is imported on account of his few wants and his low wage-value, it is a heavy demand upon our credulity to believe that he, in some miraculous way, gives employment to two of the white men whom he is engaged to supplant.

As an on-looker of these proceedings, I felt that, having taken the part which I had considered it my duty to take for the last forty-four years against the introduction of persons, either of inferior race or labouring under disabilities imposed by the criminal law of England, I could not remain silent without incurring the suspicion of being indifferent, or of having modified my opinions. I addressed the two following letters to one of the morning papers—‘The Daily Telegraph.’ The first letter was addressed to both the morning papers, but the ‘Herald’ declined to publish it:—

Sir,—It is a startling commentary on the high-flown boasts of Australian democracy, that at this moment a proposal is


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submitted for a conference of these colonies to consider the question of introducing into Australia inferior and unprivileged races of men. The Parliaments of two of the colonies, it is recorded, have already given their sanction to the dark irruption. And great interests are at stake which cannot be conserved without cheap and submissive labour. What does all this mean? Consider it in whatever light you will, it means something to be done which the free men of our own race are not competent to do. It means some necessity, real or imaginary, which can only be met by the service of aliens, who cannot be admitted to our franchises, who are ignorant of our conditions of life, and whose bone and muscle can be obtained on a low commercial scale. Does it, then, mean slavery? Let us see.

There are other slaves besides the human creatures who are stolen from their native soil and sold in a foreign market to the highest bidder. Slavery itself may be a slavery of degrees. There may be an absolute slavery; there may be a mitigated slavery. But slavery in any form has no natural place in the life of a free people. The only foundation and the only security for the freedom of a people is political equality. The concession to popular feeling which has been so widely made that the new traffic shall be hedged round by special precautions and safeguards concedes too much. Special precautions and safeguards are incompatible with the equal rights of free men. But however well designed this exceptional code of regulations may be, who is to ensure its beneficent enforcement? There must be functionaries of some sort in the place of the man-stealer, the man-seller, and the man-driver of the old system with the ugly name. No one will pretend that the best and most tender-hearted of men will volunteer for these unenviable posts. Let us suppose a labour ship—I will not say slave ship—at one of the islands; there is no electric telegraph, no press, no judicial court, no constable, no pulpit or platform orator to overlook or pry into the ship's doings; and do we not know that the labour agent's sense of right and duty will largely depend upon temperament, disposition, and bias of


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feeling. But the cause is half abandoned which pleads for tolerance through this litany of pretences.

We are told by Burke that where there is ‘a vast multitude of slaves, those who are free are by far the most proud and jealous of their freedom.’ Hence the rebellious spirit of Virginia and North and South Carolina at the beginning of the revolutionary war. Is this the latent reason of the desire for inferior and unprivileged races in Australia? But were we to throw open our doors to the Indian coolie and the benighted islander, would not our restriction on the Chinese be a grim farce? In one respect the proposed new traffic would result in a worse form of real slavery than the open slave trade supplied to the Southern States of America. The African slavers planted both sexes on those rich lands by their awful trade in flesh and blood, and we know that many happy family groups relieved the tragic gloom of hopeless servitude. But we should have loathsome clusters and sprinklings of one sex embittered by the enforced absence of the other.

In the course of human progress barbarous peoples have changed their character by slowly winning step by step their rights and privileges. It is proposed that we should reverse the order of progress, and barter away our character as a free people to secure the profitable investment of ill-directed capital, which even now reserves its wage fund for aliens. England expended the gigantic sum of twenty millions sterling to compensate the West Indian planters for the emancipation of their slaves. Are we to gather up our resources to initiate a system of castes and degraded classes, which cannot exist among us without weakening our free institutions and vitiating our national character? The application of the word federal to any design of this stamp is a mockery and a profanation.

Yours, &c.

HENRY PARKES.

June 1, 1892.

Sir,—Our admiration is involuntarily evoked for Sir Samuel Griffith in the constitutional attitude he has assumed on the


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coloured labour movement in Queensland. Whatever may be said of his policy, the mental acumen of Sir Samuel Griffith is in striking contrast to that of his neighbours in clearly discerning his duty and responsibility under the Constitution. The Ministry having decided, and the Parliament having ratified that decision by giving to it the force of law, that Queensland is to return to its dealings with Polynesian labour, it was impossible for the Prime Minister to submit the solemn resolve of the Government to the idle criticisms of an idle conference outside his own country.

Queensland has considered the question without your leave or advice, and has decided for herself. Sir Samuel Griffith has gone through his recantation, and has deliberately shifted his footing from the rock to the sand. In all this unhappy business of marching backwards, what have the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria to confer about, on the invitation of another acute statesman who, without the openness and courage of Sir Samuel Griffith, has for months past been wandering through Asia making philanthropic enquiries about black labour? Does not the mere proposal for a conference on a matter so obvious as this suggest to the mind of any free man, as it suggested to mine, an uneasy readiness to engage in a ‘parleying with slavery?’

But I am told, with a show of indignation, that it is not slavery; that the islander will be a free agent, and that he comes to do work which cannot be done by your own countrymen, and that his interests while in your service will be strictly safeguarded. Your own countrymen do the work on your cattle stations, in other of your avocations on the soil, in your woolsheds, in your mines, in the various avenues of your trade, and why not on your sugar-plantations? Is there not some other reason for your craving after the poor islander? Is he not required to serve under conditions which you dare not offer to a free man of your own blood? If he is a voluntary party to your bargain, why do you not make the attractions of your service known to him, and leave him to his own choice of forsaking his fishing ground, his cocoanut groves, and his banana


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fields, his kin and his home, in order to serve you in Australia? It would be easy enough to arrange for his free passage to one of your ports. What need to send your ships specially fitted out and specially officered for the poor islander? Above all, if his service is free and voluntary, what is your special Act of Parliament wanted for?

I say nothing here of the inevitable consequences of your man-trade with the island-world of the Pacific, which you will not be able to control or mitigate,—of the bad blood that will be engendered in savage breasts to score its achievements of vengeance in the future, the violated ties of nature, the bitter sense in the islander's experience of your boasted civilisation, the impossibility of his finding any natural place in life after his servile sojourn with you, and the ghastly record of mortality connected with the traffic and the servitude.

Let us confine ourselves to the first chapter of this retrograde movement. Queensland has acted within her constitutional right, and she knows it, and she proudly tells the intermeddlers around her to mind their own business. But there is above and beyond Queensland a more powerful voice—the voice of the free people of all Australia. There is a higher tribunal than the Government of Queensland—the tribunal of Civilisation. If her neighbours have no status for active interference, they have the right and the duty of remonstrance; and the right and duty to let the world know that this diseased passion for degraded labour is confined within the borders of Queensland. Instead of paltering to a sickly demand for a conference where there is nothing to confer about—where everything is clear and definite—the two great central colonies, with their two millions and a half of free people, should speak out the true voice of all and insist upon the preservation of this Australian land for an Australian Commonwealth.

Yours, &c.

HENRY PARKES.

June 10, 1892.




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13. CHAPTER XIII

THE FEDERATION OF THE AUSTRALIAN COLONIES—SUCCESSES— DIFFICULTIES—APPROVAL OF THE PEOPLE.

THE federation of the Australian colonies has occupied the minds of the best men who have ever studied the problems of Australian progress. There is scarcely one man of any intellectual grasp who has not looked forward to a time of union. Even those who have favoured the idea of separation have nevertheless foreshadowed the colonies, not as disunited but as united states. Probably no single mind, capable of comprehending the subject in all its immensity, has ever clung to the notion of the colonies planted in Australia remaining separate political organisms for ever. Such fixed and unalterable separation would carry with it the germs of internecine jealousy, contention, aggression, reprisal, and open war. Kindred ties must in time degenerate into foreign relations. The forces, which in union make the strength of a State, would dissipate themselves in petty rivalries and wasteful strifes.

These pages afford no fitting place for tracing the history of federation, and I must confine myself to a consideration of the question so far as my own opinions and efforts have been concerned with it. But to show how early the question was taken up in what may be


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termed the history of our constitutional politics, I will cite three authorities. So far back as July 28, 1853 (three years before the advent of Responsible Government), Mr. W. C. Wentworth expressed this opinion in a Report to the Legislature of that day: ‘One of the most prominent legislative measures required by this colony, and the colonies of the Australian group generally, is the establishment at once of a Legislative Assembly, to make laws in relation to the intercolonial questions that have arisen or may hereafter arise in them.’ Mr. Wentworth did not say that a federal legislature would be required towards the close of the century, but ‘at once,’ thirty-nine years ago. It is not, therefore, an inference or a surmise, but a matter of certainty that, if Mr. Wentworth were still living, he would be a decided advocate of federation, for he was decided in its advocacy at a time when the reasons in support of it were not one hundredth part so strong as they have since become by the amazing expansion of Australian progress. On October 20, 1856, a few months after the introduction of Responsible Government, Sir Edward Deas-Thompson, a man of many statesmanlike qualities, who had held the office of Colonial Secretary for the last thirteen years, said in the Legislative Council: ‘The time, I look upon it, is not far distant when the colonies will adopt some federal arrangement;’ and enumerating matters which in his judgment could only be satisfactorily dealt with by federal authority, he added, ‘there are seven great questions which ought to be submitted to some general Federal Assembly representing all the Australian Colonies.’ In the following


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year, on September 8, 1857, a committee of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, presided over by Sir C. Gavan Duffy, reported strongly in favour of federation. Besides the chairman, there were upon this committee several men of eminent fitness for the enquiry, among others Sir John O'Shanassy, Sir Archibald Michie, Dr. Evans, and Sir James McCulloch. The following are the opening paragraphs of the report which show the clearness and decisiveness of the conclusions arrived at and the just reasoning which led to them:—

The necessity of a Federal Union of the Australian Colonies for legislative purposes, and the best means of accomplishing such an union if necessary, have been referred to the present committee. They have given these questions of national polity the prolonged and deliberate consideration which their importance demanded.

On the ultimate necessity of a Federal Union, your committee are unanimous in believing that the interest and honour of these growing States would be promoted by the establishment of a system of mutual action and co-operation among them. Their interest suffers, and must continue to suffer, while competing tariffs, naturalisation laws, and land systems, rival schemes of immigration and of ocean postage, a clumsy and inefficient method of communicating with each other and with the Home Government on public business, and a distant and expensive system of judicial appeal exist; and the honour and importance which constitute so essential an element of national prosperity, and the absence of which invites aggression from foreign enemies, cannot perhaps in this generation belong to any single colony of the Southern group, but may, and we are persuaded would, be speedily attained by an Australian Federation representing the entire.

Neighbouring States of the second order invariably become confederates or enemies. By becoming confederates so early in


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their career the Australian colonies would, we believe, immensely economise their strength and resources. They would substitute a common national interest for local and conflicting interests, and waste no time in barren rivalry. They would enhance the national credit, and attain much earlier the power of undertaking works of serious cost and importance. They would not only save time and money, but attain increased vigour and accuracy by treating the larger questions of public policy at one time and place; and in an assembly which, it may be presumed, would consist of the wisest and most experienced statesmen of the Colonial Legislatures, they would set up a safeguard against violence and disorder—holding it in check by the common sense and common force of the Federation. They would possess the power of more promptly calling new States into existence throughout their immense territory as the spread of population required it, and of enabling each of the existing States to apply itself without conflict or jealousy to the special industry which its position and resources render most profitable.

As was natural in a situation so new, the first conceptions were imperfect—it may be admitted, quite inadequate to the great ends to be accomplished; but the conviction of the necessity for some form of union was clearly and firmly expressed. Since these early utterances of far-seeing men, during the whole period of Parliamentary Government, arguments have been advanced on the platform and in the public Press, sometimes with much force and eloquence, in favour of an early union of the colonies. My own efforts, by voice and pen, had extended over many years before the Melbourne Conference of 1890, so much so that personal appeals were often made to me by leading men of the other colonies to set on foot a movement for complete


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Australian union. At a great banquet in Sydney, in commemoration of the Centenary, Mr. Gillies, then Prime Minister of Victoria, made the following appeal to me in the presence of a thousand guests from all parts of Australasia:—

I had not the good fortune to hear all that Sir Henry Parkes said this evening; but I can assure him, that in all his aspirations for the future I believe there is not a gentleman from the other colonies here present but will join him to the acclaim, and there is not one solitary proposal he may make for the union of the Australasian colonies, in which they will not be prepared to join, and to do everything which in them lies to carry out that great purpose. We all know what union means, and what disunion means. Disunion has been exhibited on several occasions by the colonies, certainly not to our credit; and I believe, whatever differences of opinion we entertain, that all the great colonies of Australasia ought to be united, that the sooner they are united, for a great many important common reasons, the better, and that, when they are united, they will be able to speak with a more perfect and more useful voice than ever they could speak separately.

Certainly some of my proposals and suggestions in earlier years took a tentative form. At one time, many years ago, I suggested the union of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, as having interests more in common, and lying more compactly together (excluding the northern territory), than the other colonies. And it may be that this idea will yet be adopted in some scheme of limited federation not embracing all Australia. Let us, however, hope that the whole of the colonies will be interpenetrated by the vivifying sense of supremacy in union, as against irreparable


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weakness in disunion, and that they will come together, and unite themselves for ever in the ties of kinship and political destiny.

In one of my tentative endeavours I committed the error of suggesting the scheme of the Federal Council, which is now dragging out a consumptive existence under an enabling Act of the Imperial Parliament. I had not then learned that the adage of ‘half a loaf is better than no bread’ was one of ill sound to a nation rapidly approaching its majority. My fault was this:—At a conference held in Sydney in January 1881, of which I was chairman, I submitted the following memorandum:—

In respect to the Federal Council Bill now submitted, the following positions are assumed as hardly open to debate:—

  • 1. That the time is not come for the construction of a Federal Constitution with an Australian Federal Parliament.
  • 2. That the time is come when a number of matters of much concern to all the colonies might be dealt with more effectively by some federal authority than by the colonies separately.
  • 3. That an organisation which would lead men to think in the direction of federation, and accustom the public mind to federal ideas, would be the best preparation for the foundation of Federal Government.

The Bill has been prepared to carry out the idea of a mixed body, partly Legislative and partly Administrative, as the forerunner of a more matured system of Federal Government. Care has been taken throughout to give effective power to the proposed Federal Council within prescribed limits without impairing the authority of the colonies represented in that body.

No attempt has been made to constitute the proposed Council on any historical model, but the object has been to meet


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the circumstances of the present Australian situation, and to pave the way to a complete Federal organisation hereafter.

HENRY PARKES.

January 21, 1881.

Though the Bill was framed, it was never adopted or recommended by the Conference, and within a few months afterwards, from maturer thoughts on the subject and consultation of authorities, I abandoned the scheme as a thing that must prove abortive upon trial. On further reflection it seemed to me next to impossible, that a small body, not elected by the people, and possessing no executive powers, could satisfactorily deal with matters too largely of a federal character to be submitted to one of the Australian Parliaments. My abandoned Bill remained in this state until the latter part of 1883, when it was taken up by another Conference or Convention, and made the basis of the existing Federal Council Act. I did not even know what was being done, as I was in England and did not return to the colony until the August following.

The first movement worthy of the noble object of bringing all Australia under one National Government arose from my initiation in October 1889. The correspondence which then took place is so important in relation to what has been done, and to whatever may be done in the future, that it does not appear to me that any explanation is necessary in giving the principal letters in these pages.




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Telegram from the Honourable Duncan Gillies, M.P., Victoria, to the Colonial Secretary, New South Wales.

Melbourne, October 22, 1889.

I duly received your telegram of the 15th instant, proposing consultation with regard to General Edwards's important representations on our defences. What I discern is that it is not merely consultation that this vital matter demands, but consideration and determination by somebody having the necessary powers for giving effect to its conclusions. A Conference in the matter might certainly arrive at certain resolutions which, I fear, would, like former ones, be barren of results, the local Parliaments possessing no power for the necessary Federal legislation; this could only be given by the Imperial Parliament. Now we have in the Federal Council a body instituted in view of this very emergency, and endowed with the needful authority and powers. You will see in subsection (i) of section 15 of the Imperial Act, 48 & 49 Vic., cap. 60, that ‘General Defences’ is the first in the list of matters which may, on being referred to it by the Legislatures of two or more colonies, be dealt with by the Federal Council. This Council, as you know, consists of Ministers and other representative men, and can deal with the whole matter satisfactorily. It can not only consider and devise a practicable scheme, but can embody it in the form of legislative enactment. If the Federal Council be not accepted for this purpose, what else is possible? To create a new Federal Body for defence alone, when you have a Federal Body in existence, having power to deal specially with defences, would certainly seem strange, and outside of Australia would not increase Australia's prestige. We are surely not required to create a new Federal Council, for every new Federal difficulty to be solved in the Federal Council. The requisite machinery stands ready for use. If you consider the matter during your recess, and decide to recommend to your Parliament to give in its adhesion to the Federal Council, the thing is accomplished, and we shall present for the first time the spectacle of an united


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instead of a divided Australia. Whether this shall be now, or be postponed to a future day, and to other men, rests very much with you to say. It might be necessary to have a preliminary talk to determine the form of submission by the Parliaments of each colony to the Federal Council, but beyond that, should you join, the matter is all plain sailing.

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,

October 30, 1889.

Sir,—Your telegram, explanatory of your views in favour of bringing the machinery of the Federal Council into operation in giving effect to the recommendations of General Edwards for the federalisation of Australian troops, reached me last week in Brisbane. Being extremely anxious to meet your wishes, I lost no time in re-examining the provisions of the Federal Council Act; and I regret that I cannot concur in your view, that the Council possesses the requisite power to constitute, direct, and control an united Australian army. The sub-section of clause 15, to which you specially referred me, appears to supply evidence to the contrary. The two words ‘general defences’ are included in a long list of secondary matters, such as ‘uniformity of weights and measures’ and the ‘status of corporations and joint stock companies,’ and it would be a very strained interpretation that could give to those two words so used a definition of legal authority to deal with a matter second to none other in the exercise of National power. It is not for me to say what is the precise meaning of the words on which you rely; but it is contended that they cannot be construed to mean the creation, direction, mobilisation, and executive control of a great army for the defence of the whole of Australia.

For more than twenty years I have had the question of Australian federation almost constantly before me; and I cannot be accused of indifference to it at any time, merely because I had become convinced from earlier examination, while others were adopting the scheme of the present Federal Council at a later period, that no such body would ever answer the great objects of Federal Government. Leaving the provisions of the


  ― 340 ―
Act as to the legislative capacity of the Council, we are at once precipitated upon an impassable barrier, in the fact that there does not exist in it or behind it any form of executive power. Supposing, for example, that the Federal Council's recommendations, or enactments, for the movement of Australian soldiers could be accepted, there could not be found anywhere a corresponding executive authority to give effect to them.

The vitally important recommendation made by General Edwards is one, in any light from which it can be viewed, of national magnitude and significance. The vast sums annually expended by the Continental Colonies for defence works and services would be of greatly enhanced value in time of public danger, if the scattered and unconnected forces locally maintained could be brought under one command, and, whenever advisable, directed to one field of operations. I am satisfied that this cannot be done by any existing machinery. The Executive Governments of the several colonies could not act in combination for any such purpose, nor could they so act independently of each other. The Federal Council has no executive power to act at all. The Imperial Parliament, on the application of the colonies, could, no doubt, pass an Act to constitute the Federal Army under one command, and to authorise its operations in any part of Australia; but the colonies could never consent to the Imperial Executive interfering in the direction of its movements. Hence, then, this first great Federal question, when looked at fairly, brings us, in spite of preferences or prejudices, face to face with the imperative necessity for a Federal Government. And why should we turn aside from what is inevitable in the nature of our onward progress? It must come, a year or two later possibly, but in any case soon.

I hope I need not assure you that this Government is anxious to work in harmony with the Governments of the sister colonies in the matter under consideration, and is desirous of avoiding subordinate questions coloured by party feeling or collateral issues. It is a question to be put to the mind and heart of Australia, in view of the destiny of Australia, and on which it is hoped all sections of the collective population will unite without regard to


  ― 341 ―
narrower considerations. Believing that the time is ripe for consolidating the Australias into one, this Government respectfully invites you to join in taking the first great step, namely, to appoint representatives of Victoria to a National Convention for the purpose of devising and reporting upon an adequate scheme of Federal Government. With much deference to the views of the other colonies, it is suggested that, in order to avoid any sense of inequality in debate or any party complexion, the number from each colony should be the same, and should be equally chosen from both sides in political life; and that, in the case of each colony, the representatives should be elected by Parliament and receive commissions from the Governor in Council. It is further suggested that six members from each colony would be a convenient number, both in regard to combining a fair representation of the two Houses, and at the same time not making the Convention too unwieldy. In each case four members might be taken from the Assembly, two from each side; and two members from the Council, one from each side. In the case of Western Australia, where only one House exists, possibly only four members might be elected. If New Zealand joined, the Convention would as a result consist of forty members.

The scheme of Federal Government, it is assumed, would necessarily follow close upon the type of the Dominion Government of Canada. It would provide for the appointment of a Governor-General, for the creation of an Australian Privy Council, and a Parliament consisting of a Senate and a House of Commons. In the work of the Convention, no doubt, the rich stores of political knowledge which were collected by the framers of the Constitution of the United States would be largely resorted to, as well as the vast accumulations of learning on cognate subjects since that time.

Although a great and pressing military question has brought to the surface the design of a Federal Government at the present juncture, the work of a national character which such a Government could, in the interest of all the colonies, most beneficially and effectively undertake, would include the noblest objects of


  ― 342 ―
peaceful and orderly progress; and every year the field of its beneficent operations would be rapidly expanding. I devoutly hope that you will be able to take the view which I have briefly explained, of the necessity now pressing upon these colonies to rise to a higher level of national life, which would give them a larger space before the eyes of the world, and in a hundred ways promote their united power and prosperity.

Permit me, in conclusion, to say that you place much too high an estimate on my individual influence, if you suppose that the accession of New South Wales to the Federal Council rests with me. In my judgment, there is no person and no party here that could persuade Parliament to sanction the representation of this colony in the present Federal Council.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedient servant,

HENRY PARKES.

The Honourable Duncan Gillies, M.P., Premier,

Melbourne.

Letter to the Honourable J.A. Cockburn, M.P., South Australia.

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,

October 31, 1889.

Sir,—I have the honour to invite your attention to the question of the federalisation of Australian troops as raised by the memorandum of General Edwards. It is submitted that a careful consideration of the subject will lead to the conclusion that nothing short of a Federal Executive can carry out the General's recommendation.

In reply to a telegraphic despatch (I believe a circular) from the Government of Victoria, I have written giving a fairly full summary of the views of New South Wales on the matter, which we hold to be one of the first importance. I now enclose a copy of this letter, which I hope will receive your consideration.

This Government is anxious to approach the great question of a Federal Australia, which we believe is imminent in spite of all adverse circumstances, in a true federal spirit, untrammelled by any preconceived notions as to conditions, with an earnest


  ― 343 ―
desire to act in unison with the other colonies, and fully prepared to make our share of sacrifice to arrive at so noble a consummation.

I have, &c.

HENRY PARKES.

[Enclosure.]

[Copy of Despatch to the Honourable Duncan Gillies, of October 30, 1889.]

Letter to the Honourable Sir H.A. Atkinson, K.C.M.G. New Zealand.

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,

October 31, 1889.

Sir,—I have the honour to bring under your notice the great and pregnant question of establishing a Federal Government for Australia, or, better still, for Australia. I am not sufficiently informed to understand the feeling of the Parliament and people of New Zealand as to federal relations with the Continental Colonies. It may be readily seen that aspects of the main subject will forcibly present themselves to you, which will not, in the same light, be conspicuous to us; but I hope I shall be pardoned if I point out that in the event of the federation of the Australian colonies (which is only a question of a brief difference of time, in any case) an entirely new condition will arise for New Zealand, who will no longer be one of seven separate colonies, but a single colony in relation to a Federated Australian Power.

I simply hope New Zealand will join in this great movement. From my point of view, her interests in the broad light of this event are the same as ours.

I have written to the Government of Victoria giving a fair summary of the views of this Government on the question which presses upon us for solution at this juncture, and I beg to enclose a copy of my letter for your consideration.

I have, &c.

HENRY PARKES.

[Enclosure.]

[Copy of Despatch to the Honourable Duncan Gillies, of October 30, 1889.]




  ― 344 ―

Letters similar in import to the one addressed to South Australia were addressed to Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia. Mr. Gillies, who acted with great consistency, frankness, and courtesy all through our negotiations, replied to my ‘proposals’ on November 13. In the meantime I was receiving communications from many quarters, some of them from persons in the highest positions. As things went on, naturally enough, new views opened to me, and suggestions were offered from far and near. I give the November letters:—

Premier's Office, Melbourne,

November 13, 1889.

Sir,—In dealing with your present proposals for a General Federal Parliament of Australia and a General Federal Government—specially urged now in view of the suggestions of Major-General Edwards on the organisation of the Australian forces, and the importance of securing some effective plan of combined action for defence—it is necessary to make some references to our correspondence a few months ago on the same subject.

This was then marked ‘Confidential,’ but inasmuch as your present circular letter, now under acknowledgment, deals with the whole question, the communications referred to have necessarily lost their confidential character. I therefore take the liberty here of directing your attention to my letter of August 12, with the view of saying that the general opinions I then expressed as to the practicability at present of constituting a Federal Parliament and Federal Government remain very much the same. But, although I have cause for grave doubts as to the success of such a movement at present, there are no reasons that I am aware of which should stand in the way of so serious and important a proposal being fully considered in all its aspects. To ensure that consideration, I would suggest to you that, instead of going through the form of the Parliaments appointing representatives to a Convention, it should be accepted


  ― 345 ―
as sufficient if the representatives of the various colonies at the Federal Council were to meet yourself and representatives from New South Wales to discuss and, if deemed necessary, to devise and report upon an adequate scheme of Federal Government.

The members of the Federal Council are representative public men, who possess the confidence of their respective colonies, and who could well consider this question without any undue usurpation of authority.

It may be accepted without demur that the number of the present members representing each of the colonies could with advantage be increased, so as to give a larger and wider selection (the desirability of which has been already recognised), but if this cannot be effected immediately, we may nevertheless accept the representation as it is. Appointments by Parliament for this specific purpose would be surrounded with many difficulties, one of which would be an objection to Parliament committing itself, without sufficient consideration, to the determination that the time was ripe to establish a Federal Parliament and Federal Government. The discussion and consideration of this important question by its Federal Council representatives would leave the Parliaments quite unfettered, and would, I submit, be more acceptable; and certainly it could leave no room for suspicion in the mind of Parliament that the members of the Federal Council were being discredited and intentionally thrust aside.

Connected with this question of the establishment of a Federal Parliament and Federal Government is still that other one which must be solved—whether a Federal Parliament and Federal Government be agreed to or not—and that is, to determine the steps to be taken now which will enable Australia to unite her forces in any emergency, and thereby make her defences effective. Even if the Federal Government be agreed to, it must take four or five years before it can be brought about, and should the proposal not be agreed to—should all not be able to see eye to eye—are we to remain a concourse of disintegrated atoms, so far as defence is concerned, and be prepared to sacrifice


  ― 346 ―
the national interests of Australia, rather than subordinate our individual preferences to obtain united action?

I have indicated that, whatever be the result of our discussion on the great Federation question, provision should at once be made for united action for defence, and I was therefore pleased to notice that you had re-examined the provisions of the Federal Council Act to see if relief could not be found there. This I look upon as a most favourable augury, because if relief could be found there you certainly would not refuse to accept help even if obtained from a quarter hitherto somewhat despised. To accomplish the purposes which are of primary importance in the matter of Australian Defence it is, I submit, not necessary that the Federal Council should possess or exercise executive authority. What is necessary is that it should legislate for Australia, and this it could do if all the colonies referred to it the subject of ‘General Defences’ to be legislated upon.

Under this head would be included:—

  • A General Discipline Act, in which provision could be made for the troops of one colony serving in another colony, and setting out the circumstances under which they could be sent or withdrawn.
  • The provisions necessary for placing such troops under the same authority as the local forces.
  • Provision to fix their pay and allowances when on service outside their own colony.
  • Provision for the appointment of a General Commanding Officer seconded for service in Australia, and such other provisions as may be necessary to secure the strongest defence for Australia on any emergency.

The object of these provisions is simply to enable the colonies of Australia to do what they cannot do now, viz.: act together in time of need. For this purpose the Council requires no executive authority: let it give the powers indicated above and the colonies can do the rest.

That a Federal Government clothed with the authority of a Federal Parliament could do much more, and do it much better,


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goes without saying. At this moment we have to deal with an essentially practical question, which demands solution, viz.: How can we secure united action for defence purposes? That question can be solved in the way I have indicated. Is that solution to be rejected because we may not be able at present to obtain a better one? I hope not.

It has certainly been urged by some that the Federal Council may pass its Acts but could not enforce them for want of executive authority; and they would, therefore, be a dead letter should any colony refuse to give effect to them. Very true, because they would simply be enabling Acts; but the assumption of the whole situation is—that every colony on this continent is anxious to be clothed with the power to act unitedly in the matter of defence, and that their troops should be enabled to stand shoulder to shoulder with the troops of other colonies in any emergency. If this assumption be wrong, then we are idling our time in further considering the matter. If, on the contrary, the assumption be correct, may I ask which colony will refuse to help when help is needed, or refuse to provide the necessary funds to do its part in the defence of Australia? It is not the first time that these colonies have acted together in matters involving a large expenditure of public money, without a thought of evading any responsibility; and, as we have required no Acts in the past, there is no reason to anticipate the necessity for Acts of coercion in the future to enforce payments of any honourable obligations.

You urge that from the use of the words ‘general defences’ it cannot be contended that they mean the creation, direction, mobilisation, and executive control of a great army for the defence of the whole of Australia. I quite agree with you, and I have never before heard of such a contention, nor, so far as I know, has it ever been contended that the Federal Council can have, under its present constitution (whatever may be referred to it), the power to create ‘a great army for the defence of the whole of Australia,’ nor that it can have the executive control such an army.

Neither of these things is at this stage necessary for our


  ― 348 ―
purpose; nor for years would it be possible to obtain them, if to-morrow it were agreed to establish a Federal Government. What we have, and desire to make the most of, is a small compact little force in each colony capable of good and effective work, if a law were enacted to make their mobilisation possible, as well as to secure their proper direction and control. It is to urge the importance of making this law speedily that I have invited your attention to the way in which the powers of the Federal Council can be exercised.

When we meet to discuss and consider these weighty questions in all their aspects, I sincerely hope that some satisfactory agreement may be arrived at; and I shall, indeed, be much gratified if we can agree on the larger question of the establishment of a Federal Parliament and Government; but I earnestly hope that in any event we may at least see our way to unite in securing, through the Federal Council, such legislation as will enable those recommendations of Major-General Edwards to be carried out which you have properly described as ‘of national magnitude and significance.’ It would be a sad disappointment should we fail in satisfactorily dealing with this lesser question, which, after all, is the practical matter which confronts us at the present time.

I attach a copy of my letter of August 12, in case you should have forgotten or mislaid it.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,

D. GILLIES,

Premier.

The Honourable Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G.

Sydney.

Melbourne, August 12, 1889.

My dear Sir Henry,—You must not think from the delay that has taken place in answering your two letters—submitting suggestions for making a fresh start in Australian Federation— that I had, for the present, put the subject aside: on the contrary the whole question has from time to time been turned over


  ― 349 ―
in my mind. I gather from your letters, especially from the last one, that your proposal is to create a Federal Parliament of Australia consisting of two Houses, with an Executive Federal Government constitutionally responsible to the Federal Parliament—the Crown no doubt being represented by a Governor-General. This, of course, would be a Federation on the same lines as the Dominion of Canada. Whether the Parliament so created would in other respects be the same as that of the Dominion would depend on the powers granted to it, and those reserved to the local Parliaments.

It appears to me that, going on those lines, it would be impossible to stop short of granting to it supreme authority necessarily involving the power to levy taxes. I wish I could think that there was any present prospect of bringing this about.

On the various occasions when I urged you to join in the Federal movement, and not leave the parent Colony of New South Wales in a position of isolation, it was with the idea that you might suggest some alteration in the constitution of the Federal Council, which, if made, might make it possible for you to join.

If that were brought about, there is much that could be done for Australia's advantage. In the first place we shall be united; in the second place we could proceed to consider several important questions, which must be dealt with shortly, and which would well come within the province of the Council to deal with. As, for instance, to determine on the united action to be taken in the matter of defence; and to legislate so that the forces of one colony could be made available for service in any other colony; to advise on the best settlement of the Western Australian difficulty. These and others could be effectively dealt with much more so than by any conferences.

It will be within your knowledge that steps are now being taken by the various Legislatures of the colonies represented in the Federal Council to secure an increase in the number of the members, which will not only give more effective representation, but will also add weight to its deliberations.




  ― 350 ―

In turning the whole question over in my mind, I cannot help being forcibly impressed with the thought—that through the Federal Council, on its enlarged basis—we might be able to consider and formulate the proposals of the larger Federation, and certainly bring about in a much shorter space of time than could otherwise happen the accomplishment of the high purpose you have in view.

It must be borne in mind that for the future the Federal Council will not be represented (as it is now) nearly wholly by Ministers. It will naturally assume a more representative character, and, therefore, if necessary, might be clothed by the special authority of the various Legislatures with power to deal with the question.

Now why should you not join us to do this great work? What is the difficulty? Surely it would be a worthy ambition for you to adopt the best means at your disposal, in fact at your hand, to unite Australia in a Federation which would not only promote her material interests and strengthen her against aggression, but also powerfully aid in uniting and cementing together all parts of the great Empire of which she forms a part. No one at present can do the work but you. You can remove the Federation barrier which has been created by the isolation of New South Wales from all the other Colonies on the Federal movement. New South Wales did put her hand to the plough, and did draw back. It is for you to put your hand to the plough and not draw back. You have at your disposal the means, which I have suggested, if you wish to use them. My advice would be—spend no unnecessary time in trying new means, but make use of the agencies which exist, and which, when being used, will create no alarm in the minds of the timid.

What you may refuse to do to-day, someone else will do to-morrow, and I should be pleased to see you take the pride of place.

My deliberate judgment is, that by far the greatest hope that we can have of the larger Federation becoming a fact in


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the near future lies in working it by means of the smaller Federation which we have in our hands.

Now I have freely written what was in my mind to say.

Yours very truly,

D. GILLIES.

The Honourable Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G.

Sydney.

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,

November 28, 1889.

Sir,—In reply to your letter of the 22nd instant, and in further reference to your previous despatch of the 13th, I beg to state that I wished to be understood in last writing to you as anxious to make clear my position as an individual in relation to the Federal Council; and I again assure you that the action of New South Wales in remaining aloof from the Council, so far as I can form a correct opinion, has never in any material degree rested with me. In point of fact, the Ministers who represented this colony in the Convention of 1883 were unable to carry motions in the Parliament of the time in favour of New South Wales joining the Council, notwithstanding that they were generally supported by large majorities.

It does not, however, appear to be necessary to enter into any further discussion on the circumstances affecting the attitude of New South Wales in 1883 and the intervening years. She now offers her hand to the other colonies, without reserve and without stipulation for any advantage to herself, and invites them to meet on equal ground in the great cause of Australian union, which she believes represents the soundest sentiments and the highest interests of the Australian populations. The cordial spirit of agreement on the main issue that pervades the correspondence of all the Governments leads me and my colleagues, after the most careful reconsideration of the whole question, so far as at present it is advanced, to accept virtually the suggestions offered by you in your despatch of the 13th instant. Though I must be permitted to take exception to some of your reasonings, I am not disposed to raise any serious objection to the conclusion you arrive at in favour of an informal


  ― 352 ―
meeting of the colonies for the purposes of preliminary consultation. It will be a great step to meet on a common ground.

It seems difficult to meet the argument that any representative body, authorised to discuss in its preliminary stages the question of the unification of the colonies, should be credited for such weighty purpose in the highest popular form known to us under Constitutional Government, and that would be election by the several Parliaments. Nor can I easily see how the Parliaments could be ‘fettered,’ or placed in any condition inconsistent with the genius of Parliamentary institutions, by deliberating and arriving at a decision on Federation any more than on any other subject whatever. I submit that it is the chief function of a Parliament, in the exercise of its powers, to commit itself, or refuse to commit itself, to the question it has in hand. And even in the case of refusal, the great principle imbedded in the foundation of such institutions operates to refer the question to the primary bodies that originate and give shape and impetus to Parliaments. It is more than probable that a question so intimately concerning the whole Australian people, and on which the wishes of the people ought to be kept constantly in view, will not be decided without appeals to the electoral voice; and there can be no truer wisdom in a democracy than that a movement so momentous in its consequences, when its foundation principles have once been clearly stated, should throughout receive the support of the national majority.

Nor can I admit that several years need be consumed in the establishment of an Australian Federal Government. In the North American colonies the difficulties, racial, territorial, and geographical, were incomparably greater than anything that can possibly arise with us. Of all communities that have ever appeared in history, the Australian communities are, perhaps, the most fitted for, and present the fewest impediments to, just National union. Since I first addressed you on the subject, I think the evidence has made itself apparent that the season is ripe for the work of laying, wide and deep, the foundations of the new structure of Government.

If I rightly read the language addressed to me by yourself,


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by the Governments of Queensland and South Australia, and by the other Governments, it is that representatives of this colony should meet the members of the existing Federal Council as ‘representative public men’ to discuss the whole question as now presented, and in the light of what is best for Australia. I only have to add that this colony will be happy to meet the other colonies on these terms.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,

HENRY PARKES.

The Honourable Duncan Gillies, M.P., Premier,

Victoria.

It will be observed that in my letter to Dr. Cockburn, of South Australia, I say: ‘The Government is anxious to approach the great question of a Federal Australia, which we believe is imminent in spite of all adverse circumstances, in a true federal spirit, untrammelled by any preconceived notions as to conditions, with an earnest desire to act in unison with the other colonies, and fully prepared to make our share of sacrifice to arrive at so noble a consummation.’ In this high spirit the Government acted from the first step. In nearly every speech I delivered, I repeated words to the same effect. As a Government we did our utmost to lift the discussion to a level above all huckstering tactics and all attempts at provincial favouritism. And from the first we announced that we were prepared for obstacles, reverses, temporary failures, and for backslidings and desertions on the part of pretended friends; and we never ceased to express our belief, that, ‘in spite of all adverse circumstances,’ the cause would in the end triumph.

It is now (the end of June, 1892) two years and


  ― 354 ―
eight months since the date of my first letter to Mr. Gillies, and a mighty work has been done; every mind in Australia has been familiarised with the idea of an united People; the intellect of Europe and of America has been attracted to us by our aspirations to live under a Federal flag and a Federal Government. A great Conference has been held, representative of the several Australian Governments, with unanimity in its voice in favour of federation; a great Convention has met, representative of the several Australian Parliaments, with unanimity in its decisions in support of federation. Men in office may come and go—the puppets of temporary power may rise and fall—a great cause may be flouted to propitiate the dispenser of portfolios in a Ministerial crisis; but the people of the colonies— British-born and Australian-born alike—are sound in their resolve to be united. I have myself addressed various audiences on this question of questions—in my own electorate, in other of the populous suburbs of Sydney—in one of the most crowded and enthusiastic meetings ever held in Sydney itselfnote—in the large inland cities—in the Border towns; and every clear exposition


  ― 355 ―
of the case was received with that ring of cheers which cannot be mistaken for any ebullition of factious or local feeling. The newspaper press is almost unanimous on the subject; the leading minds throughout Australia are in warm sympathy with the cause.

In new countries there is, more plentifully than in old states, a class of men who, by active industry, strong common sense, habits of thrift and sobriety, and sympathy with their fellows, rise to positions of influence without the adventitious aids which are extended to persons born in more favourable circumstances. These men are found everywhere, and they are always central figures in social and political movements. In them natural ability repairs the defects of education, and earnestness supplies the place of eloquence. Among the letters received by me in support of my views many came from this influential class. I select two from the late Mr. James Fletcher, member for the city of Newcastle. Mr. Fletcher held office twice with Mr. Dibbs, and was a consistent member of the party opposed to me. He has been some time in his grave, and he died respected by all classes. The following are his letters:—

October 31, 1889.

My dear Sir,—I have gone as fully into the principles embodied in your circular letter addressed to the Premier of Victoria as the limited time at my disposal would permit.

In the first place, allow me to say that I am, and always have been, strenuously opposed to anything pertaining to what is known as Imperial federation. If we are to have federation, it must be apart altogether from Imperial interference.

The people of the colony must be the judges of what is best


  ― 356 ―
and most conducive to their own interest, and, in my opinion, the ties between us and the mother-country can only be maintained by our having the executive control in managing our own internal affairs.

The so-called Federal Council, established some five or six years ago, was looked upon by many, yourself included, as somewhat farcical, and the subsequent events prove how correct you and others were in that decision; and I hope you will not consider me harsh in expressing an opinion that the creators of that Council did not grasp the situation, nor comprehend the magnitude of what was to be accomplished by an Australian federation. The defences of the colony, however important, are only one factor of what is intended to be done by a Federal Government. If we are to have a Federal Government, I unhesitatingly say that it must be on the lines which you have so lucidly enunciated in the circular under consideration. Any such Council, to be beneficial, should, I contend, be representative, and to be representative it must be chosen either by the people direct or by the Parliament of each colony.

There may be a difference of opinion as to the necessity of giving effect to your recommendation at the present time; but, considering the magnitude and importance of your project, and the power that such a scheme will exercise either for weal or woe on the future of these colonies, and recognising the well-known maxim that ‘no great legislation should be done in the time of excitement,’ I concur with you that this is a fitting opportunity, in the absence of any national disturbance, to bring about your very desirable proposal.

The petty jealousies existing between the colonies must necessarily be inimical to their best interests, and the progress we have made in the past is due to our vast natural resources rather than to any united efforts of colonial representation.

It is admitted by all who have devoted any attention to the subject, that our arid plains can be made productive by the means of irrigation, in order to accomplish which it will be necessary to break down the barrier which is caused by the existing boundary water-rights of each colony.




  ― 357 ―

Then again the treatment of the Western Australia question by the Imperial authorities points to the necessity for a consolidation of our interests.

Your proposal for each of the colonies to be represented at a Conference is in my opinion a good one. It will tend to dispose of the idea that any one colony desires to dictate to the others, and will therefore break down the curse of all progress —jealousy. In dealing with this question, I hope it will be met with in the spirit of fairness, and that the importance of the subject will raise it above party politics, and that we shall join with you in endeavouring to lay the foundation stone of a great and glorious Australian Empire.

I notice by the press that the gentleman appointed as Governor for Victoria is entrusted with a commission of bringing about Imperial Federation. If such is attempted, I unhesitatingly predict it will cause very strained relations between the colonies and the mother-country, and may not stop at that. I am proud to say that, however much we may differ politically on minor matters, I have always admired the noble stand you have taken in maintaining the full measure of liberty for the people of this colony, and your determined opposition to any attempt of Imperial interference, and trust you will always continue to pursue the same course.

I can only speak for myself, and as such permit me to say, that I heartily approve not only of your worthy intentions, but also of the proposed mode of consummating them, which shall have my support. I have no sympathy with those croakers who say the question is premature. If it be good, and I maintain it is, the sooner we have it the better; and I think, taking into consideration all the collateral circumstances, you deserve every credit.

I am,

Yours truly,

JAMES FLETCHER.

The Honourable Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G.

Colonial Secretary.




  ― 358 ―

My dear Sir,—I am in receipt of your note of the 2nd inst., and it is gratifying to me to learn that my hurriedly written letter in reference to the Federation of the colonies meets with your approval. I concur in your remarks that the accomplishment of the great principle does not depend upon the persons now in Executive Office, but nevertheless permit me to say that, in my opinion, it will facilitate the accomplishment of the great work to have it commenced at the present time. You are the initiator of the movement, and I trust you will persevere until a Federated Australia is an accomplished fact.

I am,

Yours very truly,

JAMES FLETCHER.

The Honourable Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G., &c. &c.

The Melbourne Conference unanimously concurred in the expediency of calling into existence a Parliamentary Convention (the first ever called in Australia) to frame a Federal Constitution, and the Ministers present agreed to invite their respective Parliaments to elect members to such Convention. In all the six Australian colonies, and also in New Zealand, the elections duly took place. The New South Wales delegates were Mr. William Henry Suttor, Sir Patrick A. Jennings, Mr. Edward Barton, the present Speaker, Sir Joseph Palmer Abbott, Mr. George R. Dibbs, Mr. William McMillan, and myself. All these gentlemen, on my invitation, met at my house to talk over in an informal way the position of the representatives of New South Wales, and their most advisable course of action. When they assembled, the conversation, which was of the most friendly and cordial character, naturally


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drifted into a desultory discussion of the principles which should form the foundation of any Federal Constitution. Thinking over the same subject a day or two previously, I had drafted a set of resolutions which I laid before them. So far as my memory serves me, no objection was raised to any of my resolutions except the fourth, in respect to which it was urged that any mention of the public lands would be inadvisable. The fourth section was accordingly omitted, and it was agreed that I should submit the resolutions in the amended form. The following is my original draft:

That in order to establish and secure an enduring foundation for the structure of a Federal Government, the principles embodied in the Resolutions following be agreed to:—

  • 1. That the trade and intercourse between the Federated Colonies, whether by means of land carriage or coastal navigation, shall be free from the payment of Customs duties, and from all restrictions whatsoever, except such regulations as may be necessary for the conduct of business.
  • 2. That the power and authority to impose Customs duties shall be exclusively lodged in the Federal Government and Parliament, subject to such disposal of the revenues thence derived as shall be approved by the Federal and Provincial Parliaments.
  • 3. That the Military Defence of Australia shall be entrusted to armies or corps to be styled the Federal Forces, under one Commander-in-Chief, and such bodies of Militia or Volunteers as may be raised by the Provincial Governments.
  • 4. That it shall be reserved to a High Commission, representing all the Federated Colonies, to enquire into, consider, and recommend for adoption an equitable scheme for the distribution of the public lands, and the


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    satisfying of existing territorial rights, such scheme keeping in view both the necessary strength of the National Government and the just claims of the respective provinces. The Report of such High Commission to be made to the Governor-General within two years from the date of its appointment, which shall be by a majority of at least two-thirds of the Federated Colonies. The final settlement to be made by a Bill of the Federal Parliament, approved, before being presented for the Royal Assent, by a majority of the Provincial Parliaments.

Subject to these and other necessary provisions, this Convention approves of the framing of a Federal Constitution, which shall establish,—

  • 1. A Parliament, to consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, the former consisting of an equal number of members from each province to be elected by a system which shall provide for the retirement of one-third of the members every seven years, so securing to the body itself a perpetual existence, combined with definite responsibility to the electors, the latter to be elected by districts possessing severally an equality of representation.
  • 2. A Judiciary, consisting of a Federal Supreme Court of not fewer than ten Judges, which shall have power to constitute itself a High Court of Appeal for Australia, under the direct authority of the Sovereign, and whose decisions as such shall be final.
  • 3. An Executive, consisting of a Governor-General, and such persons as may from time to time be appointed as his advisers, and whose term of office shall depend upon their possessing the confidence of the House of Representatives expressed by the support of the majority.

That a Committee be appointed, consisting ............... to prepare and Report upon a Constitution to establish a


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National Federal Government in accordance with the principles herein set forth.

In drafting the omitted section, I had in view the Northern part of Queensland, the Northern territory of South Australia, and the enormous tracts of land within the boundaries of Western Australia, which never can be turned to proper account by the Government of Perth. The thoughts which occurred to me must have occurred to hundreds of other minds. There is something almost startling in the fact that the Western Australian Government, with its handful of 45,000 inhabitants, nominally holds one-third of Australia. The late lamented J. M. McCrossan, delegate from Queensland to both the Conference and the Convention, uttered some pregnant words in a remarkable speech at the Conference. Mr. McCrossan was an earnest democrat, whose democracy was not of the frothy order, but had a scientific basis and a symmetry in the adaptation of ideas to facts. He was, moreover, an earnest member of the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. McCrossan, unfortunately for Australia, died while serving as a member of the Sydney Convention, comparatively a young man, and every true friend of federation must regret his premature death. I had moved the following resolution as the first business of the Conference, after settling the order of proceedings:—

That in the opinion of this Conference, the best interests and the present and future prosperity of the Australasian Colonies will be promoted by an early union under the Crown, and, while fully recognising the valuable services of the members of the Convention of 1883 in founding the Federal Council, it


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declares its opinion that the seven years which have since elapsed have developed the national life of Australasia in population, in wealth, in the discovery of resources, and in selfgoverning capacity, to an extent which justifies the higher act, at all times contemplated, of the union of these Colonies under one Legislative and Executive Government, on principles just to the several colonies.

In the debate that followed, Mr. McCrossan, speaking on February 12, said:—

There is the question of the public lands. I confess I have not quite made up my mind on that question, although I may say that I think the public lands should be under the control of the Federal Executive. We have two examples before us of the federation of peoples of our own race, in the cases of Canada and America. In the United States of America, the Federal Government has the full and sole control of all the public lands, and no one can say that the public lands of the United States have not been well administered and well managed. In Canada the Dominion Parliament left the control of the public lands to the local Governments. Whether the public lands of Canada have been as well administered as the public lands of the United States I cannot say; probably other members of the Conference are better informed on that point than I am. But we have these two opposite systems to consider between this and the meeting of the Federal Convention, which I hope to see assemble in a few months. In the meantime I think myself that the balance of opinion is in favour of the Federal Government having control of the public lands.

Sir, I believe that the people of these colonies are far more ripe in the cause of Federation than some honourable gentlemen in this Conference give them the credit of being. I thoroughly believe that if the question was put to the colonies to-morrow, as certain questions are sometimes put in Switzerland and in other countries under what is called the Referendum, the majority of the people of Australia would vote for Federation as against


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no Federation. And I believe, also, that they would give their votes intelligently, knowing what Federation meant, what sacrifices would have to be made by the different local Legislatures; knowing, also, that it would mean the establishment of a Federal Executive and a Federal Parliament, with which they would have very little or no intimate connection. Now, if my honourable colleague [Sir Samuel Griffith] believes that, as I think he does, why should he, or any other member of this Conference, be afraid to give expression to the opinion? Why should we, who believe so thoroughly in Federation, be afraid to raise the standard of Federation, which we feel ought to be raised, but which seemingly we are too timid to raise for fear of offending the susceptibilities of timid Conservative people. Then, again, my honourable colleague thinks that the people of Queensland might be opposed to Federation because they are opposed to centralisation, being separationists in some parts of the colony; but the honourable gentleman ought to know, and I think he does know, that those people who are actually the strongest separationists are the most ardent of federationists.

Sir SAMUEL GRIFFITH.—Hear, hear.

Mr. McCROSSAN.—The whole of the people of Northern Queensland, who are separationists, are as strong in the principle of Federation as I am, therefore the argument that the people are opposed to Federation because they are afraid of centralisation has no force or effect whatever, as far as Queensland is concerned. Centralisation has no terror for anyone who thinks upon the subject, if sufficient local autonomy is left to the local legislatures. If we were to have a Legislative Union it would be a different matter; if we were proposing to destroy the local legislatures it would be a different thing entirely; but if we leave sufficient authority, as we ought to do, to the local legislatures, Federal Government or centralisation can only have the effect of making men believe that which we wish them to believe—that they are first Australians, and then Queenslanders, South Australians, or Victorians. Then, again, on the other hand, we must, I think, give to the Federal Parliament the full control of the waste lands of the Crown. I have said already that I am in


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doubt whether I would give the Federal Parliament the control of all the Crown lands, but there is a large amount of waste lands of the Crown almost outside of civilisation which I think the Federal Parliament should have the full control of, and the Federal Parliament should also have the same control over the territorial jurisdiction of such outside parts or portions of Western Australia and the northern territory for the formation of new States. Every power and authority now exercised by the Imperial Parliament over those parts of Australia should be exercised by the Federal Parliament, and I believe that those powers would be exercised by the Federal Parliament in a more beneficial and intelligent manner than obtains at present, because the power would be exercised by those who know the character of the country and the requirements of the people they are dealing with. I believe also that power should be given to the Federal Parliament—as it is given to the Imperial Parliament—to cut up, if thought necessary, the different existing colonies of Australia, and form them into smaller States. I consider that the colonies of Australia are too large for good government. Some of the existing colonies, such as Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, are far too large for good government.

Large States are never so well governed as small ones, and, therefore, the Federal Parliament ought to be empowered to cut up the larger colonies into smaller colonies, as the Federal Government of America has cut up the larger States into smaller States when it has been deemed expedient and just to do so. This may be an extreme opinion, but it is one I have held for a long time, and it is one which I am certain will not be opposed by my constituents in Queensland.

I quote these passages from Mr. McCrossan's speech on account of their originality in contrast to the platitudes indulged in by others; and his consideration of what he conceived to be the desirable scope of the discussion


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and the conditions of success in the accomplishment of the great object was not less remarkable. Mr. Playford, who is nothing unless he is literal, had complained of my resolution, which in fact belonged as much to Mr. Gillies and to Mr. Deakin as to me, because it did not embody some definite proposal—did not give some outline of a Government, and he characterised it as ‘bald.’ Mr. McCrossan replied to this objection:—

I thoroughly approve of the resolution proposed by Sir Henry Parkes. I approve of the resolution word for word, with the exception, perhaps, of the word ‘Australasian,’ to which the New Zealand delegates have alluded. Although certain members of the Conference have thought such a motion is too vague and indefinite, I consider Sir Henry Parkes has shown his wise discretion in proposing it. Judging from the speeches which have been made, Sir Henry Parkes must have had the prescience that, if he had proposed a motion more precise and definite, we probably should never have arrived at an unanimous decision upon it. Therefore I approve of the motion most heartily.

My resolution was passed unanimously by the Conference, and may be regarded as the beginning of federal agreement. Of course I do not commit myself to Mr. McCrossan's views on the division of Australian territory, and it is probable that he only gave expression to them at that time as speculative and suggestive. But as enunciations of doctrine and theory on the founding of new States, his views may be accepted as laying down as a fundamental principle, that excessive area is not necessary, but positively detrimental, to national growth and development. In that general view I entirely concur, though I have been, and am still, quite prepared to leave territorial divisions as


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they now exist, rather than create new obstacles to federation. As a matter of reason and logical forecast, it cannot be doubted that if the Union were inaugurated with double the number of the present colonies, the growth and prosperity of all would be more absolutely assured. It would add immeasurably to the national importance of the new Commonwealth, and would be of immense advantage to Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland themselves, if four or five new colonies were cut out of their vast and unmanageable territories.note

The memorable Convention met in Sydney on March 2, 1891. I call it ‘memorable,’ because it was beyond all dispute the most august assembly which Australia had ever seen, and because the majority of its members were men who yielded to none of their compatriots in their fitness to do the work which had to be done. If we apply the democratic rule, and apply it strictly, these men had all risen to positions of eminence in their respective countries—some to the highest positions—by their own merits and force of character, without any of the aids of fortune; and their number included all the Prime Ministers of Australia, and nine others, including Sir George Grey, Mr. Gillies, and Sir Thomas McIlwraith, who had held the office of Prime Minister in former Governments. They had been elected by all the Parliaments of the colonies, and, therefore, in a constitutional sense, they represented all the people of Australia. It is difficult to see what


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democracy could desire, if this was not a democratic gathering. The Convention conducted its proceedings with large knowledge and clear argument, and with a personal dignity and a stateliness of debate which secured the public respect.

On the 4th, pursuant to notice, I moved my amended resolutions in the following form:—

That in order to establish and secure an enduring foundation for the structure of a Federal Government, the principles embodied in the resolutions following be agreed to:—

  • (1) That the powers and privileges and territorial rights of the several existing colonies shall remain intact, except in respect to such surrenders as may be agreed upon as necessary and incidental to the power and authority of the National Federal Government.
  • (2) That the trade and intercourse between the federated colonies, whether by means of land carriage or coastal navigation, shall be absolutely free.
  • (3) That the power and authority to impose Customs duties shall be exclusively lodged in the Federal Government and Parliament, subject to such disposal of the revenues thence derived as shall be agreed upon.
  • (4) That the military and naval defence of Australia shall be entrusted to federal forces, under one command.

Subject to these and other necessary conditions, this Convention approves of the framing of a federal constitution, which shall establish,—

  • (1) A Parliament, to consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, the former consisting of an equal number of members from each province, to be elected by a system which shall provide for the retirement of one-third of the members every … years, so securing to the body itself a perpetual existence combined with definite responsibility to the electors, the latter to be elected by districts formed on a population basis, and to


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    possess the sole power of originating and amending all Bills, appropriating revenue or imposing taxation.
  • (2) A Judiciary, consisting of a Federal Supreme Court, which shall constitute a High Court of Appeal for Australia, under the direct authority of the Sovereign, whose decisions as such shall be final.
  • (3) An executive, consisting of a Governor-General, and such persons as may from time to time be appointed as his advisers, such persons sitting in Parliament, and whose term of office shall depend upon their possessing the confidence of the House of Representatives expressed by the support of the majority.

The debate extended over six days, when the Convention went into Committee to consider the resolutions in detail. After prolonged consideration in Committee, the resolutions were reported with amendments on the 18th. On account of their historical significance, I give the resolutions again with the alterations made in Committee:—

That in order to establish and secure an enduring foundation for the structure of a Federal Government, the principles embodied in the resolutions following be agreed to:—

  • (1) That the powers and privileges and territorial rights of the several existing colonies shall remain intact, except in respect to such surrenders as may be agreed upon as necessary and incidental to the power and authority of the National Federal Government.
  • (2) No new State shall be formed by separation from another State, nor shall any State be formed by the junction of two or more States or parts of States, without the consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Federal Parliament.
  • (3) That the trade and intercourse between the Federated Colonies, whether by means of land carriage or coastal navigation, shall be absolutely free.



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  • (4) That the power and authority to impose Customs duties and duties of Excise upon goods the subject of Customs duties, and to offer bounties, shall be exclusively lodged in the Federal Government and Parliament, subject to such disposal of the revenues thence derived as shall be agreed upon.
  • (5) That the Military and Naval Defence of Australia shall be entrusted to Federal Forces, under one command.
  • (6) That provision should be made in the Federal Constitution which will enable each State to make such amendments in its Constitution as may be necessary for the purposes of the Federation.

Subject to these and other necessary conditions, this Convention approves of the framing of a Federal Constitution, which shall establish,—

  • (1) A Parliament, to consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, the former consisting of an equal number of members from each Colony, to be elected by a system which shall provide for the periodical retirement of one-third of the members, so securing to the body itself a perpetual existence combined with definite responsibility to the electors, the latter to be elected by districts formed on a population basis, and to possess the sole power of originating all Bills appropriating revenue or imposing taxation.
  • (2) A Judiciary, consisting of a Federal Supreme Court, which shall constitute a High Court of Appeal for Australia.
  • (3) An Executive, consisting of a Governor-General, and such persons as may from time to time be appointed as his advisers.

On motion of Mr. W. H. SUTTOR, the resolutions were adopted.

The new matter introduced is printed in italics; in the Parliament section the word ‘province’ and the words ‘and amending’ are omitted; in the Judiciary


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section, the words ‘under the direct authority of the Sovereign, whose decisions as such shall be final,’ are omitted; and in the Executive section, the words ‘such persons sitting in Parliament, and whose term of office shall depend upon their possessing the confidence of the House of Representatives expressed by the support of the majority,’ are omitted.

Under these instructions the Convention appointed a committee to draft a Constitution, which, when reported, was fully debated in the full House. With much research, much labour, and much care, the Convention did the work for which it had been elected—it framed a Constitution for a Federal Government, which will bear comparison, at the hands of intelligent men, with the most liberal constitutions in the world.

The President declared the Convention dissolved on April 9, 1891. More than fourteen months have passed away since that date, and no step worthy of Government or people has been taken by the Australian Parliaments to bring under consideration the labours of the body which they themselves created for this high duty. Let us endeavour to discover the cause of this strange negligence. There is no evidence that the interest in the question among the people has in any degree abated. The thinking portion of the populations, in the churches, in official circles, in the public press, have grown warmer in support from closer acquaintance with the project of union. Why, then, this delay?

I will take the case of New South Wales. The


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Government, which I had the honour to lead, lost no time in convening Parliament. The financial year is from January 1 until December 31, and Parliament met on May 19, forty days after the rising of the Convention, and when there were seven months and twelve days, covered by constitutional provision for the public service, in which to transact the business of the country. We had two chief reasons for calling Parliament together thus early: (1) To allow ample time for the consideration of the draft Bill of the Convention, and (2) to ensure the passing into law of a Bill to establish a system of local self-government for the country districts. Other important business was announced, but these were the principal measures of urgency. It seems to me impossible for any man to deny that the conduct of the Government was prompt, open, and straightforward. The Governor was made to say in the opening Speech:—

I have called you together at the period which has been affirmed by the Legislative Assembly as the most convenient for the opening of the Session of the year, and while fully half the time, for which the public service is legally provided, remains unexpired, in order that the course of your legislative labours may not be interrupted by the exigency of temporary Supply Bills. It is hoped that the winter season for the sitting of Parliament will be found more conducive to the economy of time, and the lessening of the sacrifices which honourable members are called upon to make in attending to their public duties.

During the recess the National Federation Convention, to which you appointed representatives of this colony, assembled in Sydney. It met on March 2, and concluded its labours on April 9. The scheme for a Federal Constitution, which that body was instructed as its sole work to frame, will be laid before


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you in the form of a carefully drawn Bill—the result of much deliberation, argumentative contention, and necessary compromise. In reference to this important measure—the work of the foremost men in the public life of Australia—no time will be lost in submitting to you a resolution as a distinct part of the policy of my advisers; and I feel the fullest confidence that it will receive at your hands the enlightened consideration, which the great object before you, and the grave character of the national undertaking which was begun with your concurrence and participation, so eminently demand.

A Bill has been prepared, and will be immediately submitted for your consideration, to confer upon the people of New South Wales the advantages of self-government, giving to the inhabitants of defined areas full authority in the direction of the local affairs of their respective districts.

Another matter was mentioned in the Speech which ought not to be omitted here, as it bears an intimate relation to the state of things which followed some weeks later. There was no Labour party at this time in Parliament. That body made its appearance in the general election of the following month. But Ministers had given much consideration to the great strike in 1890; a Royal Commission had been appointed to investigate the causes of industrial disputes, and to suggest remedies. After enumerating other measures, the Speech contained the following paragraph:—

All parties in the State must have viewed with concern and anxiety the repeated disturbances to the legitimate pursuits of industry and trade which have been caused by the lamentable disputes between the class of employers and the great labour classes of the colony. It is impossible to estimate the enormous loss which must have resulted from these disputes. Works have been closed, and ships driven away from our ports; enterprise has been paralysed, and capital alarmed into seeking


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foreign fields of investment; angry and evil feelings have been engendered between men who have never had any personal cause of quarrel; and the cruel weight of the widespread misery has widely fallen, not upon the leaders, but upon the helpless and innocent members of workmen's families. A commission has been sitting for several months past to enquire into, and report upon, this difficult and painful subject. You will be invited to consider a Bill for dealing with the problem presented for solution by the constitution of courts of conciliation, and of tribunals to conduct and determine cases of arbitration in final resort, and to make other provision for the settlement of trade disputes.

On the same day, when the Address in reply was moved in the Assembly, I gave notice of a motion for the consideration of the draft Federal Constitution, which would have brought on a regular debate on the work of the Convention, and afforded every opportunity for members to propose amendments. But this did not suit the arch-plotter against federation, Mr. George Houston Reid, who had made up his mind not to allow, so far as he had power, an open and unprejudiced discussion of the momentous question. In the previous Session Mr. Reid, after endeavouring to elicit opposition, and failing in his endeavours, had voted for the delegates to the Convention: but he made no secret afterwards, first, of his cynical doubts, and then of his open hostility. His position would have been trying to a sensitive nature. He nominally belonged to the Ministerial side; he talked bitterly against the Protectionists on the Opposition benches; he professed to be anxious for a Local Government Bill—indeed he had lately threatened the Government in a noisy public


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meeting if they did not produce a measure of that kind. But he could not restrain himself sufficiently to wait for my motion, which he knew would be the first business. I was the leader of the House, and I had been the duly elected President of the Convention; even if it had not been my rightful place, common courtesy would have allowed me to introduce this particular business, which I was prepared to do the first moment possible. But Mr. Reid calculated that, if he took a course which would embarrass the Government, he was sure of the assistance of the Protectionist opposition. So Mr. Reid moved an amendment on the Address. He knew that if his amendment were carried, Ministers would either resign or advise a dissolution. But neither his anxiety for the Local Government Bill, nor his sense of duty, was powerful enough to hold him back. He had brooded over his amendment for days past, had exhibited it to admirers male and female, and had dreamed of the laurels of victory. In making his motion, Mr. Reid was fluent, as he always is,—fluent as a water-spout after a heavy rain; but his speech was barren of thought, and where not vituperative, simply dull. Mr. Reid was mistaken in his calculations; a large number of the Opposition, knowing well the sentiments of their constituents, voted against him, and his amendment was lost by 67 votes against 35. What was Mr. Reid's next act? The Opposition, thinking that they saw an advantage in the excitement of the moment, took the extreme course of voting against the Address itself, which of course, if successful, would have been the severest vote of censure, and Mr. Reid,


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mastering his intense anxiety for the Local Government Bill, joined in that purely factious vote.

After these wasted two days at the opening of the Session, Ministers met in Cabinet to consider the prospect rather than the situation. The Triennial Parliament had only a little over eight months of its life to run out. The heat and temper displayed in the last division which sought to expunge from the records the Address in reply to the Governor's Speech, and other evidence within our knowledge, satisfied us that the tactics of our opponents would be to prevent us from doing useful work, to demoralise us, and then force us to the country,—that, if any pretext could be twisted to serve the purpose, the picture would be drawn before the eyes of the electors, that we had consumed our time in the ‘fad’ of federation (a favourite term of our opponents), and had neglected the legislation so urgently required for the advancement of New South Wales. Two nights had already been spent in debating federation, and it appeared to us, under the altered state of circumstances, unwise to bring on another debate, until some progress were made with the urgent business which belonged exclusively to the colony. The Cabinet came to a decision in accordance with this reasoning. The leader of the Opposition, Mr. Dibbs, now came to the front with a direct motion of want of confidence. No one could complain of this as a party move, but the case was different with Mr. Reid; he, according to his own profession, was a Free-trader of Free-traders; he had personally concurred in the formation of the Government, having first been invited to


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join it; he now walked boldly over, with one or two other disunionist Free-traders, to swell the solid vote of the Protectionists. In that division the two sides were equal, the Speaker giving his casting vote against the motion. This lost to that Parliament all chance of dealing with the cause of Australian union. A few days afterwards the Assembly was dissolved.

East Sydney, Mr. Reid's constituency, returns four members. In the general election, Mr. Reid, who hitherto had always been first or second, was now left last on the poll, with a respectable distance between him and the third man. All the Ministers, with one exception, were returned at the head of the poll. Many circumstances, but chiefly the advent of the Labour party, contributed to confuse the issue of the elections. But in no part of the colony, where the case was clearly put, was the feeling less strong and enthusiastic in favour of federation. I spoke on the subject in various parts of the country—in Sydney, in St. Leonard's at Lithgow, at Goulburn, at Wagga, at Albury, at Deniliquin, at Jerilderie, at Nerandera, and at other places; and while I received unstinted marks of approval, I met with no feeling of dissent.

The new Parliament met in July, and Mr. Dibbs was at once prepared to try his fortunes with another motion of want of confidence. I believe my colleagues shared my own feeling, that, with the new element in the House, we had an unknown region before us, and that we were not over-anxious to win on Mr. Dibbs's motion. To me it seemed that it might be well to let him and his friends try their hands with our


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new masters. But the bulk of the Labour members decided to support the Ministry, and the division gave us a decisive majority. The Labour party behaved honourably enough. They had been elected to obtain legislation for their fellow-workers, and they would not have been honest men if they had not pressed for the introduction of the measures to which they were pledged. So far as we were concerned, we needed no pressure, as most of the Bills so loudly called for were already prepared in our hands. With the Labour force in our majority, we had to choose between proceeding with the legislation, which both we and they believed to be necessary for the well-being of the masses, and giving up office with a large majority in our favour. It was unreasonable to expect the Labour members to agree to our setting aside all provincial—I use the term for the purpose of distinction—all provincial matters, however important, for the great national question of federation. We decided to place federation third in our programme of Parliamentary measures, and so it stood when we had to retire from office. In reality, it was morally impossible for us to deal with federation between May 19 and October 22, when we ceased to be a Government.

In the other colonies no better progress has been made; in most of them nothing whatever has been done. The fault does not lie with the people, but in the multiplicity of petty interests which block the way in Parliament, and in the jealousies and cross purposes of men who have not been elected to deal with a mighty question which is wholly new to their


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experience and extends itself far beyond their accustomed vision.

The Australian Parliaments have upon the whole worked beneficially for the colonies, and many men who have served the electors have deserved well of their country. This may be freely admitted, and yet the fact remains, that men are often elected on no visible or conceivable ground of personal fitness for the business of Parliament. Small local interests are allowed to have inordinate weight, and traits of personal character, not always of the best stamp, act as a loadstone to the votes of certain classes of men. The cricket-ground and the racecourse are nurseries of one order of politicians, and another order is reared in Temperance organisations and debating clubs. And beyond all question, the ecclesiastical craving for power, especially in one church, overrides every other consideration. It is not, therefore, surprising that groups of men are found in every Australian Assembly, who find it difficult to understand the clearest argument in support of an entirely new constitutional structure. This was made painfully evident in recent discussions, where it appeared to be an impossibility for some minds to see, that the Convention of 1891 could not impose an uniform electoral system on all the colonies, and that in each colony, as a question of right, the electoral law must be left with its own legislature. Of course, wherever an element of weakness exists, there will appear men of political cunning and tortuous courses to use it for wrong purposes. It may not be to their own advantage, or to the advancement of any cause in which they


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profess to believe, but it may serve to gratify their ill-will in some direction, or their simple love of confusion.

Seeing that there are in Australia six independent Parliaments, with six distinct Executive Councils, the difficulties in the way of legislative agreement appear to be the more formidable the more they are examined. If the question could be resolved into a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ it would be easy enough. But to analyse, criticise, and synthesise (if I may use the term), a complex political organism seems beyond the functions of a body with many voices and conflicting wills, and in which the most competent and the most incompetent have equal weight in a general vote. It is almost like a skilful clockmaker being associated on equal terms with a sailor and a tailor, a shoemaker and a weaver, a black-smith and a bricklayer, in the making or the repairing of a chronometer. But if done in one House of Parliament, it must be done in both; and if in one colony, still in like manner in the Parliament of each of the other five colonies. The difficulty might in some measure be got over, if the Parliament were elected on the one question of the Federal Constitution, but that would be of no use in one colony, unless the same thing were done in each of the other colonies, because all must eventually join in the required approval. In New South Wales the Government is under a pledge to submit the draft constitution of the Convention for the consideration of Parliament, and it cannot be delayed without a breach of honour when Parliament reassembles. If by moderate counsels and good fortune


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it should be approved with reasonable and relevant amendments, the example will have a powerful effect in the other colonies. In any case the Australian people are masters of the situation.

The Constitution framed by the Sydney Convention is before the world. If we take the ground of the extreme objectors, very slight amendments, hardly touching its principles, would meet their pessimistic views. The cavil which has been raised is more one of phraseology than of principle. Any Constitution that can possibly be embodied in language, if fit for a free people, must be largely—almost wholly—modelled on the Convention Bill. Let the Australian people, from sea to sea—East and West, North and South, take heed of this, and if the question is too big for their Parliaments, let them take it into their own hands. There is nothing to prevent the election of a Federal Congress representing all the colonies and the whole people. A Council of Founders might be chosen to revise the draft Bill of the Convention or to frame a new Bill, to be presented to the several Parliaments for acceptance or rejection. Let it never be forgotten that it is not the approval of the few men who form the Parliament of the day, but the ratification by the people who constitute the nation, either through their representatives or by their direct voice, which is required. It will never do to allow the destiny of Australia to be made the sport of paltering politicians, who are here to-day and gone to-morrow; if the people but once awaken to the full grandeur of the movement, the end of their labours will soon be in sight.




  ― 381 ―

14. CHAPTER XIV

REVIEW OF MY POLITICAL LIFE—AN ATTEMPTED ESTIMATE OF MY PUBLIC WORK—THE GROWTH OF THE COUNTRY

I HOLD the opinion that any man of a fair average degree of commonsense, combined with an innate love of the truth, can judge more accurately of his own work in life, where it stands untainted by sinister bias, than any observer can judge of it. Of course, I do not for a moment mean any part of conduct, where the individual is charged with absolute wrong-doing, and where evidence has to be adduced to substantiate the charge against him or to clear his character. But I mean, that, in the ordinary events of a human life, where the judgment and will are left free to decide, the man himself knows best the motives that actuated, the considerations that governed, and the circumstances that gave shape to, his line of conduct in any given instance. Guided largely by this opinion, I enter upon a retrospect, with some effort at examination, of my own public life of over forty years.

I believe myself to be a proud, but thoroughly unselfish, man, with a fervent and unchanging love of my fellow-creatures. I am proud of my strength to stand alone, of my power to resist forces brought against me, of the conquests I have made by my own energy and


  ― 382 ―
perseverance; but I feel no pride in place or position, or in the possession of the gifts of fortune, which indeed have been few with me. I have never known what it is to feel envy of others more favoured than myself, and I have never withheld my last shilling from those who needed it more than I. The influence of these feelings will explain much in my conduct which men have misunderstood.

I doubt if any man ever started in life with definite objects set before him, which he has steadily and unswervingly laboured to accomplish. No one can believe that of Napoleon Bonaparte in the field of war, or of Mr. Gladstone in the field of peace. New revelations of mental light, new accumulations of moral force, new developments in surrounding conditions, new appearances of material agency, and, inwardly, new springs in the current of thought and meditation, must wonderfully change the relative importance of objects and the practicability of means to their attainment. But in every human life, above the lowest type, there must be a supreme bent or passion—there must be guiding lights, more or less constant, from the activity of the intellect and the conscience. In Napoleon the love of material power and conquest was ever predominant; in Mr. Gladstone the desire to elevate his fellow-countrymen in the scale of national life has always prevailed.

Looking back upon my own efforts in the young public life of Australia, I feel conscious of having pursued three clear purposes, at times held with a relaxed grasp through the pressure of adverse circumstances,


  ― 383 ―
but never lost to sight. I have tried my utmost to win the first place in Australian progress for New South Wales; without abating one jot of my loyalty to the dear mother-colony, I have tried, as occasion has served, to promote the sentiment and to strengthen the nascent ties of Australian union; and, through good and evil report, I have clung to the idea of the expanding greatness and the integrity of the Empire. Forty-three years ago—seven years before the introduction of Responsible Government—I was the person who originated the first movement in Australia for the extension of the elective franchise, with the result that both the household and freehold qualifications of electors were reduced to one-half of what they were previously. My first appearance at a public meeting was to resist the influx of English criminals, in which I never relaxed my efforts until the struggle ended in triumph. After my election to the Legislature, my early labours were directed to much-needed reforms in the public institutions of the colony. Within the first year of my life as a Minister, I succeeded in passing the Public Schools Act of 1866, which laid the foundation of our present magnificent system of primary instruction.

At the close of 1856 I retired from the Legislative Assembly with the view of devoting all my time and energies to the daily journal then on my hands. If at that time—thirty-six years ago—I had ceased to live, my death would have been generally deplored, so strong was the feeling of public confidence which my conduct had awakened in the country. Public meetings were called to testify the approval and respect of my fellow-colonists,


  ― 384 ―
and the following is the announcement of the business which was to be submitted at the last of these meetings:—

Testimonial to Henry Parkes, Esq.

Pursuant to resolutions unanimously passed at two public meetings held at the Royal Hotel, a public meeting of the friends and admirers of Henry Parkes, Esq., will be held at the Lyceum Theatre, York Street, this day, Monday, February 2, at two o'clock P.M. precisely.

The Honourable Charles Cowper, M.P., has kindly consented to take the chair.

The following resolutions will be submitted to the meeting:—

  • 1. That this meeting is unanimously of opinion that the public services of Henry Parkes, Esq., in the patriotic efforts which he has made for many years past to advance civil liberty, social progress, and good government, demand the sincere and grateful acknowledgment of every Australian colonist.
  • 2. That upon Mr. Parkes's retirement, probably for a long period, from public life, this meeting desires that a suitable and permanent memorial should be established of the high estimation of his public virtues by his fellow-colonists, and that a subscription be opened for the purpose of raising funds for the purchase of an estate, to be vested in trustees for the benefit of Mr. Parkes's family.
  • 3. That the earnest co-operation of the Australian colonists in promoting the objects of this meeting be solicited, and that gentlemen favourable thereto be invited to aid in forming local committees, and in soliciting subscriptions in aid of the proposed testimonial.

G. C. REID,

Honorary Secretary.

I, however, so soon as the movement assumed a definite form, stepped in and stopped the proceedings. I had never favoured testimonials, however genuine in


  ― 385 ―
character, and I can most sincerely avow that I desired to be left undisturbed to follow the course I had marked out for myself in the field of journalism. I therefore addressed the following letter to the Secretary of the movement:—

Sydney, January 21, 1857.

My dear Sir,—Until I saw the report of the meeting held yesterday at the Royal Hotel, I did not know who were interesting themselves on my behalf in getting up this proposed testimonial, and I did not see my way to interfere in the business. I think it is right, however, that I should now communicate to you, in order that you may explain to the committee that has been appointed, my feelings on the subject.

In the first place, I think the public should be slow to stamp the services of any man with a special mark of their approval, for honours of this kind can only retain their value by reason of the just claims of the persons on whom they are bestowed. Entertaining this opinion, I cannot persuade myself that I have any merits to entitle me to a distinction so altogether personal. If I have been fortunate enough to effect any amount of good in the share I have taken in public life, I would rather have it entirely lost sight of than over-estimated by my fellow-citizens. In either case the good could not in reality be made greater or less; but it would be more grateful to one's self-respect to rest upon something that remained for ever unacknowledged than to feel conscious of having accepted a distinction undeserved. On the broadest ground that can be assumed, I think my friends would best consult the public interest and my individual reputation by abandoning their intention in regard to me.

In the second place, even if I could believe that my claims to public consideration were greater than my warmest friends can possibly make them out to be, I have a kind of horror of testimonials. My sense of justice, I am bound to say, is against them. Merit, wherever it exists, will work out its own most fitting reward. If men cannot achieve something to stand as a memorial of their own lives, it is best that they should pass


  ― 386 ―
away without any attempt of friendly hands to magnify their littleness. I am quite content to submit myself to that inexorable trier of men's actions, Time, and to take my chance of being swept away.

Moreover, I desire above all things, just now, to be allowed to work in quiet. The duties that lie nearest to me require this for their performance. I am gratefully sensible of the kindness of my friends, which I shall ever remember; but that kindness will manifest itself in the form most desired by yielding to the wishes expressed in this letter.

I am, my dear Sir,

Yours very truly,

HENRY PARKES.

Mr. G. C. Reid, Secretary to Committee.

The meeting was held in the Lyceum Theatre at two o'clock in the afternoon, and was largely attended by leading men, few of whom are now living—indeed, I only know of two, Mr. Richard Jones and Sir William Windeyer. Among the speakers, the late Right Hon. W. B. Dalley is thus reported:—

Mr. DALLEY, M.P., in answer to loud and repeated calls, came forward and said he regretted, as he had no doubt they all regretted, that their proceedings this evening would not be of that distinctively national character that he was sure they all wished they should be. He regretted that what he considered would have been a great expression of public feeling on the retirement from public life of one of the greatest and purest of their public men—he regretted that such an expression of opinion had been stifled by the action of the gentleman himself whom they were prepared to honour. With that delicacy of feeling which had ever characterised him, whether he appeared in the Legislative Assembly or elsewhere, Mr. Parkes had declined the great public distinction his friends were prepared to offer him. Whether in doing so he had done wisely or not,


  ― 387 ―
was a question which it did not become them at the present moment to consider; but that he had done so from a conscientious belief that he was pursuing a right course they might rest assured. At all events, when the curtain fell between him and the public—that curtain which for a time concealed him from them as a public man—it was rung down with the universal applause of the country. From end to end of the whole colony, from every journal throughout the country, from the lips of every man in the country whose good opinion was worth having, testimony to the purity of Mr. Parkes's public conduct, to the earnestness of his services, and to the value of the services he rendered, had been on all sides afforded. So that whether they consummated this act or not—whether they carried out the public testimonial proposed or not—still on record the approval of his conduct by his country lived, and he therefore did not require this testimonial, whether it assumed a pecuniary or other shape, to guarantee to him that his name would survive and be respected by his country.

The late Sir John Robertson, who had recently taken up his residence in Sydney, having previously lived in a remote part of the country, spoke in a similar strain. I give only a short extract from his speech:—

He was quite sure, from his knowledge of the interior, that in every hamlet, village, and town, the most popular man was Mr. Parkes. Not only was he the most popular, but it was a libel on the pastoral and agricultural interests to say that Mr. Parkes was only the friend of those resident in towns, for he was the friend of the whole country, and it was their duty to stand by him, as he hoped would do every man in the country.

One of the most accomplished men in the colony at that period was the Classical Professor of the University of Sydney, the late Dr. John Woolley, D.C.L. I was gratified by receiving from Dr. Woolley the following letter:—




  ― 388 ―

Lindesay, January 24, 1857.

My dear Mr. Parkes,—My temporary change of residence prevented me from being aware of the meeting in time to attend. I got Mr. Reid's circular at the hour when our friends were assembling. This I could not help very much regretting. It is only natural that we should wish to express our sense of your past public services, and our earnest and cordial anticipations of a long future, which shall secure you in the hearts of all generations of Australians, ‘monumentum ære perennius.’

However, I for one, though I have some reasons for preferring a public demonstration just now, enjoy too much the sentiments expressed in the letter which you kindly sent me, to persist in the matter to your annoyance. I shall not be foremost in pressing on the plan against your wish; but if the majority of your friends persist, you will excuse my joining them. It is one thing to consult your feelings—another to omit a public recognition of your public character; if such a recognition is made, at all events, no one, I think, ought to hold back on the ground of your personal objection.

I cannot help adding, that I am delighted and not surprised, at the manly and generous sentiments contained in your letter to Mr. Reid; they come like the fresh breeze from a free mountain side. It does one good to think that we have some real men amongst us. God grant, my dear sir, that you may be spared to take that part in the development of the moral and material interests of this country which I know you desire, and which, I am confident, will make your name as familiar to our children as that of Hampden and Cromwell.

Believe me,

Very truly yours,

JOHN WOOLLEY.

In venturing to give prominence to this early incident in my political life I have been actuated by one or two reasons. It rises from the far realms of the past, when I look back over the thirty-six intervening years


  ― 389 ―
of storm and sunshine, and it brings with it the freshness of our youth as a self-governing people. It seems to afford evidence of the beginning of what, I believe, has become an ingrained feature in my public character, the refusal of my very nature to seek support, approbation, or honour. Though I have passed through some thirty contested elections, I have never canvassed for a single vote. Though my name has been appended to the appointment of many hundreds of magistrates, I have never accepted the office of magistrate myself. When approached as to whether it would be agreeable to me to have my name submitted for some mark of Royal favour, I instantly declined to be a consenting party to any such distinction even at the hands of my gracious Sovereign. I have always held that honour would lose its lustre, and public position its dignity and importance, if not voluntarily bestowed by those who had power to bestow; if not won by the recipient on his simple merits.

As an administrator, I have been slow—perhaps to a fault—in giving my assent to new expenditure, increase of salary, or any change suddenly proposed. I have held that, if the thing was justifiable and good in itself, it could not suffer from such delay as was necessary for careful examination, and I have felt that there were many unseen influences in the public service, which naturally conflict with the views of economy or reduction, that affect a Minister, and therefore had to be guarded against. At the same time, I have tried to separate and distinguish between the things that admitted of no delay, and the things


  ― 390 ―
where delay would be salutary and beneficial in its winnowing effect. Nor have I hesitated to encounter risk with decision and promptitude, where circumstances appeared to warrant it. With arbitrary haste and against formidable obstacles, I have sent troops to a distance to prevent an outbreak likely to be attended with bloodshed. Repeatedly I have brought the arm of the Police to bear with proportioned force on disturbed conditions, where the peace of society appeared to be in danger. But in these cases my success has been my justification. In other cases I have entered into transactions involving large expenditure, without the authority of Parliament, where my judgment has told me that the result would justify my action. In one instance, I unhesitatingly spent 100,000l. in the purchase of a property absolutely necessary for the extension of the Metropolitan Railway station. If it had been made publicly known, that the Government required this property, a much higher price—probably double the sum—must have been paid for it. Other similar instances might be stated. Parliament, however, has never questioned the wisdom of these transactions. But while doing this, I have seldom allowed a private letter to pass out of my hands with a postage stamp upon it for which the Government had paid, nor do I think that I have once in my official life used a Government launch on the waters of Port Jackson for my private recreation or convenience, though others have indulged in the extravagant employment of these tempting vessels. In my intercourse with the civil servants of the country, I have laid down the rule to


  ― 391 ―
treat them with uniform courtesy as gentlemen, while observing that distance which is necessary to enable the Minister to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the public interest. On the subject of promotion, I have always contended that length of service should be fully considered, but not allowed to outweigh superior fitness for duty. And I have persistently guarded myself against favouring members of my own family.

In the province of legislation, I have anxiously endeavoured to preserve and enforce the distinction between matters of principle and matters of expediency, as in my judgment forming the basis of sound laws. A pertinent illustration of my meaning may be drawn from the existing Public Works Act of New South Wales, which I claim to be my own measure. Previous to the year 1888, the practice in the colony in obtaining Parliamentary sanction for new public works was this:—The Minister submitted his scheme, with the plans and books of reference prepared by his officers, and, on his explanation, the political majority supporting the Government voted for his proposal, often with little or no enquiry. The design of the new Act is to enforce the Minister's responsibility, to secure the reality of Parliamentary approval, and to check or defeat improvident proposals. Thus, the Minister is still responsible for the proposal he submits, but after his explanation, instead of going to a loose vote as hitherto, the Parliament, on his motion, refers his scheme for investigation and report to a tribunal consisting of its own members, drawn from both Houses and both sides; and on this committee's report the matter is then proceeded with or


  ― 392 ―
deferred for future action. The principle of Ministerial responsibility and the principle of Parliamentary authority over Government, so far from being impaired, are both strengthened, so long as the integrity of the law is maintained. But there are persons who, labouring under some notion of securing professional competency, have proposed to substitute for the joint Parliamentary Committee a committee of experts, losing all sight of the one transcendent principle of the authority of Parliament in the expenditure of the national revenues. Again, members of Parliament, impatient of obstacles in the way of some work (possibly a railway) in which their constituents are interested, have submitted motions that it be referred to the Public Works Committee for enquiry, regardless of the letter and spirit of provisions of the law, as just explained, by which the Minister alone, on his responsibility, must move the reference.

In the law making provision for primary education in New South Wales, some points of pure principle are engrafted which distinguish it from the Education Acts of other colonies. Though, for all practical purposes, education is brought to every child's home, still a small fee is charged, threepence for each child, with the two-fold object of keeping alive the parent's interest and responsibility, and saving the system from the stamp of eleemosynary support. Again, although the system is strictly non-sectarian, it is not in the hard sense secular; it admits Scripture lesson-books which teach the cardinal principles of Christianity; and it allows religious teachers to collect the children of their denomination and instruct them for a limited time apart


  ― 393 ―
from the other pupils, but in no way to interfere with the discipline of the school. Of course there are reformers who would sweep away the fees, and reformers who would banish the name of religion from the schools. It is so easy to ‘sweep away’ and to ‘abolish.’ But then the system of primary education was not established to carry out any idea of charity, or to make children strangers to the faith of their fathers. The object was to place within the reach of all—the children of rich and poor alike—the soundest and best quality of primary instruction, leaving parents to adopt their own course according to their means and their desires, in the later stages of school age. In these distinguishing features I hold, that the Parliament, which sanctioned and established the system, took an enlightened view of the true interests of the country; and it is to be hoped that neither empirics nor demagogues, for the sake of a little cheap popularity, will be allowed to tamper with the foundation so wisely and firmly laid.

Again, on the question of fixing by law the hours of labour, it has always appeared to my mind that, from the moment when the advocates of eight hours enter the domain of compulsory legislation, another question of far vaster concern to society arises. Can the Legislature determine the number of hours of labour for a free citizen, who is in the possession of his health and strength, and all his rights and privileges and the mental capacity to direct his own movements, without a flagrant invasion of his individual freedom? The question is not one of eight hours, or of nine, or of seven hours; but it is whether the law shall interfere with a free man in the


  ― 394 ―
exercise of his right to labour in his own way, according to his own will and sense of duty. If one man is protected in his rights of property, shall not the man who has no property be protected in his rights of labour? And is a free Legislature morally justified in exercising this species of tyranny over the subjects of a free country? Thus, while I have always favoured the eight hours’ movement (believing that eight hours is a sufficient allotment from the twenty-four for honest labour), I have insisted that it should be settled by reason and consultation, and be made a matter of bargain and engagement like all other matters between employer and employed. And, beyond all this, I have contended that the Legislature cannot fix the hours of labour, because there is no finality in its decisions; that in extending our acquiescence to the fixing of the hours at eight, we only acknowledge the competency of the Legislature to fix the hours, it may be eight or it may be eighteen, according to the legislative will for the time being.

As in these measures, so in others, I cannot deny myself the satisfaction of believing that my influence has tended to conserve the good, to eradicate the evil, to strengthen the energy and to elevate the sentiment in the national character. The growth of the colony in which I have lived and laboured has been amazing in my time. If I dare not claim any large positive share in its advancement, I have little fear of being accused by posterity of having created obstacles in its path of progress. I joined its scanty population when it was little more than a scattered settlement, and I


  ― 395 ―
have lived to see it entering into the noble fraternity of nations. Others will arise to examine more critically the work I have done; I can only say that it has been done with an honest purpose.




  ― 396 ―

15. CHAPTER XV

CONCLUSION

ALL growth is not progress, and progress in one element of the life of a State may be fallacious as the measure of public well-being. The great fault in Australian advance, both in the community and the individual, is the overheated desire to do things too quickly and to compass too much. There is an impatience of those natural difficulties in the upward path which can only be surmounted by perseverance and fortitude. Very often, a little success has an intoxicating, rather than a steadying, effect. In many cases the fable of the dog and the shadow has a painful realisation. But for all this, and admitting to the full the drawbacks, the volume and momentum of Australian progress have been amazing.

In forming any estimate of the Australia of 1892, it is unfair and unreasonable to go back to the year 1788. My own Australian life fairly covers the free life of the Australian people. In the latter part of the last century England made a settlement in the land, not from any enlightened forecast, not from any wise design of extending empire, but from the hard pressure of the necessities of the State. The very names of the streets of Sydney tell a significant story of the political auspices


  ― 397 ―
under which the first foundations were loosely laid: George the Third and his sons—George, York, Clarence, Sussex, Kent, Cumberland; and the King's Ministers—Pitt, Castlereagh, Liverpool, Bathurst, Goulburn. For many years after the landing of the motley group of pioneers under Arthur Phillip, there was no sign of prevision, or forerunning thought, on the part of the British Ministers in connection with the mighty work which they had unwittingly begun. The selection of Phillip as the first Governor appears to have been a happy accident. If they had posted a notice on the beautiful shores of Port Jackson, ‘Rubbish may be shot here!’ it would not have been a burlesque on their treatment of the despised infant settlement. Throughout the first twenty-seven stormy years which followed the landing of Phillip, if the infant colony was never attacked by the common enemy, it owed its safety to its forlorn remoteness and its insignificance. It does not appear to have been seriously thought of, in the Downing Street of that day, that the little rude community in the Australian wilderness would be unable to live without food; and the King's representative on the spot, when giving a State dinner, had to request his guests to bring their own bread and meat. The first impetus to a more progressive condition was given by the enterprise and public spirit of private individuals. John Macarthur, in the field of production and industrial activity, and, at a later period, John Dunmore Lang, in the province of social life, rendered services which should never be forgotten. But the tide of progress still flowed against many impediments and interruptions, and the


  ― 398 ―
words ‘home’ and ‘comfort’ but slowly regained their place in the language of those who had to toil.

Fifty-five years passed away from the arrival of the ‘first fleet’ of Governor Phillip, before the British people settled in Australia obtained the faintest voice in the management of their public affairs. Instead of ‘one man one vote,’ there was not one vote for all the thousands in the country. So, if we date from that epoch, we have not yet completed half a century of enfranchised life.

In the foreground of the picture before us now stand the great cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane, which are justly entitled to take their place in the first rank of the cities of the world; and the Australian people, exclusive of New Zealand, New Guinea, and other Australasian groups of inhabitants, already exceed three millions in number. In population, then, united Australia is 50 per cent. in advance of the kingdom of Greece or the kingdom of Denmark, and is rapidly approaching the kingdom of Portugal and the Netherlands. In the ratio of natural increase Australia can claim pre-eminence. Her births are given at 34·76 per 1,000 against deaths 14·31 per 1,000, while the United Kingdom shows births 31·69 in 1,000 against deaths 19·21; France, births 24·33 against deaths 22·26; Germany, births 37·22 against deaths 25·45. In the racial elements of the population we have 60·80 born in Australia, 8·23 in England and Wales, 9·55 in Ireland, and less than 12 per cent. in all other parts of the world.

In 1825 the total trade of Australasia was of the


  ― 399 ―
value of 511,998l., or 10l. 13s. 11d. per inhabitant. In 1861 it had reached the value of 51,001,071l., or 40l. 5s. 5d. per inhabitant. In 1889 it had risen to 131,749,505l., or 35l. 5s. 11d. per inhabitant. Our shipping had expanded from a tonnage of 147,869 in 1822 to 16,162,820 in 1889. The total value of our agricultural crops was 24,806,453l. The gold raised from our mines was of a total value of 335,906,011l. The value of our native silver was 5,621,746l., of our copper 25,058,268l., of our tin 14,398,866l. Leaving out of view our inexhaustible fields of coal and our other groups of minerals, leaving out of view our millions of horned cattle and our tens of millions of sheep, there is enough in these striking figures to show the grandeur and the amplitude of the resources of Australia, and the industrial strength and enterprise of her people.

We turn to her political condition. If there is any part of the habitable globe where men are free, it is Australia. In regard to the supreme authority of Government, it is no figure of speech to say that we Australians are held to the Empire by a golden link. It could not be of lighter weight or of more intrinsic value. The British tie gives us a standing in the world, which is illumined by all the glory of the fatherland, and which carries in its very fibre the heroic greatness of our race. But so far from arbitrary or unsuitable conditions being imposed upon us from the seat of supreme authority, we have had planted in the colonies institutions as free, as open, as much in our own hands to mould to our own advantage, as the human mind


  ― 400 ―
could devise or conceive. Our liberties are absolutely in our own keeping. When we hear men talk, in gaudy language, of the severance of this great tie of national kinship, and of setting up from among themselves a supreme head of a new state, let us look at them, examine them carefully, and ask our sober judgment if we would like to live under a chief ruler of the stamp before our eyes. Or let us look abroad, and see where we can find a republic, or polity of any name, which secures to its subjects a fuller possession of freedom, a truer equality under the laws, and a safer enjoyment of life and property, than are secured by the several Australian Governments? We want change, it is true, but it is a change to the best class of men in the working of our free institutions. We want a further advance, but it is an advance to a state of political society, where the public good will be set above all other objects, where men will learn to make personal sacrifices to serve their country, and to hold such service pure and unsullied as the highest of all honours.

The colonies possess a system of Parliamentary Government modelled on the grand type of England, which was achieved through so many generations of strife and suffering, and at the cost of so many glorious lives. No system is perfect, or can be safe from abuse, so long as the world contains weak-minded and bad men. But this system, which every people that struggles to achieve a higher state of freedom accepts as its example, is the nearest approach to genuine self-government which mankind has yet seen. But to be good and healthful, the source must be pure, the stream


  ― 401 ―
in its course must be protected from impurities, and its current through all the ramifications of society must still be kept pure.

Parliamentary Government can only be carried on by political parties. But parties may be pure, honest, and patriotic. Every question of sufficient magnitude to enter into the policy of a Government, which means the active governing power of the country, must have two sides. By the moral and intellectual contentions as to which is the true side, light is thrown even upon the opposite forces, public opinion is informed and strengthened, and all classes of the community are better enabled to discern and appreciate the nature of the interests at stake. The wrong side—the side most detrimental to the country—may for a time prevail, but it has the least chance of prevailing under honest and open debate by opposing sides; and the right in most cases is sure to come uppermost in the long run. The mischief in party warfare is done by the pretenders, by those men who, with false notions of public distinction, seek election to the Legislature by professing a belief which is repugnant to their consciences. In Australian politics, how many men have gulped down ‘free selection before survey,’ and the maintenance of the Public School system, who hated both in their hearts? Let genuineness and earnestness be cherished by all parties as among the highest qualities of public men.

The burden of the day will rest with the nativeborn Australians of the future, and never since the dawn of civilisation have the youth of a nation had a fairer field to occupy or a nobler race to run. Let


  ― 402 ―
them drink in the moral splendours from the great lives of their ancestry; let them seek light from Pym, who, when all was dark and uncertain, raised a giant's voice for English liberty; from Hampden, who died on the battle-field for English liberty; from Eliot, whose life ebbed away in a damp dungeon for English liberty; from Vane, who laid his gracious head on the block for English liberty. Let them kneel to Milton for inspiration, let them sit at the feet of Locke to receive lessons of wisdom, let them feed their souls on the luminous pages of Burke. The heroic figures of the first half of the seventeenth century—the men who entered upon the deadly struggle with King Charles and Strafford—must for ever command the homage of the students of our constitutional history. Their place cannot be supplied by any of the great teachers of later times. They wrote the lessons which they set before us in their own blood. The magnificent fabric of freedom, founded many generations before their time, which the Stuart kings laboured so strenuously to destroy, rose from their ashes with renewed splendour; and every age since has produced wise and enlightened minds to enlarge its foundations, to adorn its colossal walls, and to protect its sacred precincts from desecration. It was left for the beneficent reign of Victoria to give fulness and harmonious proportion to that Constitution, which has been evolved through centuries of tumult, by noble efforts often foiled, and through the blood of patriots prodigally spilt.

One danger to a sound and healthy public spirit in Australia is the inordinate appetite for sports and


  ― 403 ―
amusements. Outdoor exercises and indoor recreations are excellent within rational limits; but man in a civilised state has capacities for something more, and lives under obligations to use his capacities for much higher objects. All things are subject to the unsleeping inroads of decay, and any good achieved cannot be left to preserve itself. Not only so, but the enemy is always at work, to turn to a wrong use or to impair or destroy. Hence the citizens of a free State have always on hand their duties in preserving the continuous well-being of the State. ‘Luxurious ease’ is a phrase that sounds sadly in disaccord with the conditions of a new state of social existence. In a young country every man has his part to fill, not only in the work of the day, but in preparing for the future.

It may be well to bring home to the mind what the practical working of Parliamentary Government really is. This form of polity, as it now exists in England, has been fought for, laboured for, died for, by our ancestors; and the best men of later times have devoted their genius to its purified development in the light of human progress. The Australian Constitutions have been modelled on this august pattern, leaving us free to amend their provisions and give still further effect to the essential principles on which they rest. What are these principles? Mainly, in the first place, that the people of the country shall be enabled, by direct and indirect choice, to single out, and bring together, the men who are to govern them in the administrative and executive functions of the State, and to say when these men shall govern them no longer; and, in the second


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place, that the people shall have a potential voice in the making of the laws under which they live, and through their representatives shall have effective control over the raising and the expenditure of the public revenues, and the power to redress public grievances. All other are embraced in, or are subsidiary to, these cardinal principles.

At every step in this delicate, but sound and comprehensive, scheme of self-government, two words should be engraved on the mind of the free citizen—purity and integrity. To begin with the constituency. The ballot-box should be regarded by the elector as a sacred urn. No individual influence, no personal favour, no consideration whatever apart from the voter's sense of fitness for the discharge of high public duties, should determine the deposit of the vote in the ballot-box. Of course, where candidates for the vote put forth opposite sets of opinions, or opinions materially differing, the voter in the exercise of his judgment and conscience must select his side, but the selection must be honestly made in view of what he believes to be the public welfare.

Following the new member from the poll declared in his favour to his seat in Parliament, he cannot do better than accept the advice of Sydney Smith—to take his place loyally with his party—to shrink from pushing himself forward—never to speak unless he has something to say which others have not said—not to think of himself in connection with office, but, if office should come to him honourably, to be prepared by previous study and acquaintance with public affairs to


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accept it. It is well to remember always that reputation and honour cannot be derived from merely holding office, and only from filling office with dignity, ability, and usefulness. But the member of Parliament, in filling the place to which alone he has been directly chosen, has great occasions before him for useful labour, and though the higher duties and obligations of Ministerial office may never fall to his lot, he has a large field in which to serve his country. In that field, in watching the course of legislation, in checking abuse, in vindicating the injured, and in guarding the State from the blight of monopolies, from the dominations of ecclesiasticism, and from class interests entrenching themselves within its borders, he may gain a higher distinction than can possibly be achieved by the average Minister. John Bright won his brilliant crown of oratory and patriotic service as a plain member of the House of Commons—not as one of Her Majesty's Ministers.

But the Minister himself, if worthy of his high place, should live from day to day more sensitive to the burden of his obligations than solicitous of popular support. He should learn how to sustain himself in office with dignity, and how to quit office with dignity. And he should allow his mind at all times to be filled with the conviction, that the interests of the commonwealth are transcendently superior to anything that can affect himself personally. He should despise the vulgar suggestion of the retention of office by any means that jar with the integrity of the Constitution.




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What a noble incentive to high conduct in her service, now and in the future, is supplied by the glorious country we possess and her manifest destiny! In the beginning of this book, I quoted the words of the poet Campbell; in closing these desultory chapters, I again quote the poet's words:—

Land of the free! thy kingdom is to come,
Of states, with laws from Gothic bondage burst,
And creeds by charter'd priesthoods unaccurst;
Of navies, hoisting their emblazon'd flags,
Where shipless seas now wash unbeacon'd crags;
Of hosts, review'd in dazzling files and squares,
Their pennon'd trumpets breathing native airs,—
For minstrels thou shalt have of native fire,
And maids to sing the songs themselves inspire:—
Our very speech, methinks, in after time,
Shall catch th' Ionian blandness of thy clime;
And whilst the light and luxury of thy skies
Give brighter smiles to beauteous woman's eyes,
The arts, whose soul is love, shall all spontaneous rise.

Untrack'd in deserts lies the marble mine,
Undug the ore that midst thy roofs shall shine;
Unborn the hands—but born they are to be—
Fair Australasia, that shall give to thee
Proud temple-domes, with galleries winding high,
So vast in space, so just in symmetry,
They widen to the contemplating eye,
With colonnaded aisles in long array,
And windows that enrich the flood of day
O'er tesselated pavements, pictures fair,
And niched statues breathing golden air.
Nor there, whilst all that's seen bids Fancy swell,
Shall Music's voice refuse to seal the spell;
But choral hymns shall wake enchantment round,
And organs yield their tempests of sweet sound.

The present actors will soon disappear from the stage. Already, those whom we knew so well in the early days of the Constitution we know no more. A new generation is close upon us; the many will know


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no other land than fair Australia. They will bring, let us hope, with the tie of nativity, more ample stores of knowledge, nobler capacities for patriotic service, and an imperishable love of freedom and justice. Standing before the unlifted veil, let the meanest of us breathe a fervent prayer, that the Almighty may guide the young commonwealth on the high road of her starry future, that her people may be abundantly blessed within these encompassing seas of peace, and that their influence beyond may be a blessing to all mankind.

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