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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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