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nobility; and they likewise complain that the distribution of the seats in the proposed extension of the representation is most unjust and inexpedient.
That should your Honourable House determine upon the necessity for an upper chamber, such can only (in the opinion of your petitioners) be justly and efficiently based on the elective principle, and your petitioners would very respectfully suggest, may, with greatest advantage, be composed of members of mature years possessing a property qualification, and elected by freehold or other qualified voters.
Your petitioners would further desire to express their strong feeling that the true basis of representation is population; that the lower house of representatives ought to be eligible without a property qualification, and that in addition to the proposed extension of the franchise, every native-born or naturalized male adult, who can read and write, should have a vote in their election.
That your petitioners would further solicit your honourable house not to adopt the recommendation of the report as regards the exclusion of any specified class from the legislature, your petitioners deeming the exclusion of any colonist on account of his profession or employment as illiberal, impolitic, and unjust.
And, as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.
[Here follow 118 signatures.]
To the Honourable the Legislative Council of New South Wales.
THAT your petitioners, in common with their brother colonists, view with alarm and distrust any attempt to create an upper house of legislature in which the voice and sense of the people, for whom laws are to be made, shall not be had or taken in the election of its members.
That, in the opinion of your petitioners, the "Squatocracy" have an undue preponderance in the Legislative Council as at present constituted, and that if greater power were given to that class they would make laws inimical to, and at variance with the best interests of the agricultural and commercial portion of the community.
That while your petitioners admire the British constitution and laws generally, they are of opinion that the people are too heavily taxed to suport an overgrown civil list ; and that if a pseudo house of lords were created in this colony, as promulgated by a committee of your honourable house, pensions and allowances would be multiplied contrary to the enlightened views and wishes of the colonists generally.
That the aristocracy of Great Britain, being self-created in feudal times to stand as a bulwark between monarchical despotism on one hand, and democracy on the other (the people being then only half civilized), were necessary, but bear no analogy to this colony, or the enlightened views of the present age.
Hoping that your honourable house will take these premises into favourable consideration, and discountenance the formation of an upper house of legislation in this colony on non-elective principles,
Your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
[Here follow 109 signatures.]
To the Honourable the Legislative Council of New South Wales, in Council assembled.
THAT your petitioners are of opinion that the provisions of the Bill now before your honourable House conferring a Constitution on this Colony, are opposed to its best interests and permanent welfare; and that any Constitution which would be generally acceptable should provide for the formation of two elective Chambers; the Upper House being based on a differeat franchise and for a longer duration, which would secure the stability of the Government and the confidence of the people.
That your petitioners are of opinion that the electoral basis of representation for the Lower Chamber established by the late Constitutional Act, is defective and erroneous; and that the present Bill aggravates its unequal arrangements; and that in a new Constitution these defects and errors should be rectified, and the electoral system placed on a satisfactory basis.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray your honourable House not to pass the new Constitution Bill in its present shape; and your Petitioners will ever pray, &c.
[Here follow 228 signatures.]
To the Honourable the Legislative Council of the Colony of New South Wales. The Petition of the under-signed Inhabitants of the Town and District of Goulburn, in the said colony, adopted at a public meeting held in Goulburn, on the 2d day of September, 1853, duly convened by the Warden of the District upon the requisition of several Magistrates and other inhabitants of the District,
THAT your petitioners are ardently attached to the principles and form of the British Constitution, and regard with alarm the departures from them in the Constitution now proposed to be conferred on the Colony.
That your petitioners beg respectfully to submit, that as the elective principle has been since the Revolution of 1688 recognized and adhered to in all legislation affecting the three estates of the realm, it ought now to be recognised and adhered to in constructing a new and necessary estate in the Constitution of this Colony.
That your petitioners humbly suggest that in accordance with the spirit of modern British Legislation, an Upper House of legislature for this colony ought to be elected either by the electors of the colony, or the Legislative Assembly, as their representatives, om a body of the colonists to be nominated by the Crown.
That your petitioners regard hereditary legislation as opposed to the spirit of the age, and inapplicable to the circumstances of this colony.
That your petitioners most respectfully protest against the American clause in the proposed Bill, which provides that the constitution to be fixed by the measure should not be altered except by a majority of two-thirds of the members of both Houses of the Legislature, as being a departure from the British Constitution.
That your petitioners respectfully submit, that inasmuch as the present Electoral Act was passed in a conncil elected by a limited franchise, no unconstitutional impediment should be thrown in the way of its revisal in a Legislature elected by a more extensive franchise.
That your petitioners are of opinion that the exclusion of any man on account of his calling or profession from the proposed Parliament is unconstitutional, and that the proviso excluding "ecclesiastics," ought not to form a part of the Constitution, while at the same time your Petitioners declare they think it highly inexpedient that ecclesiastics should seek to be representatives in any Parliament.
Your petitioners humbly pray that the for Bill conferring a Constitution on this colony, now under consideration, may not pass your Honourable House because of its departure from the British Constitution in the particulars above referred to.
[Here follow 444 signatures.]
To the Honourable the Legislative Council of New South Wales, in council assembled.
THAT the Constitution Bill now before your Honourable House, while providing in some important respects for desirable amendments in the present Constitution of the Colony, contains some provisions which appear to your Petitioners to be objectionable.
That the clause providing for the nomination by the Crown of the Upper House of Legislature is one of these objectionable provisions. That your petitioners believe that a House so constituted will not possess the confidence of the community; and that, wanting that confidence, a House of Ñominees will not exercise the power and independence necessary to secure for them a distinct and conservative influence on the legislation of the country. That your petitioners are of opinion that an Upper House composed of members of mature age, elected for longer periods than five years, from larger electorates than those returning Members to the Lower House, and by a constituency representing more especially the property, the older settled residents, and the intelligence of the colony, will more effectually and beneficially answer all the useful ends for which a second Chamber is designed, than a House of Crown nominees. Your petitioners are confirmed in the correctness of their views on this point by a comparison of the working of the elective and nominee principle under the present constitution of the colony.
That the clause providing for the creation of an hereditary titled class in the colony, with a view ultimately to the election by them of members of their own order to form the Upper House of Legislature, appear to your petitioners to be based on a mistaken estimate of the actual condition of things in the country, and to be calculated to result in producing a very sorry imitation of the aristocracy of the mother country. Having no titled class with special and exclusive privileges now existing among them, your petitioners believe it would be a step in the wrong direction to provide for the creation of such a class.
That your petitioners strongly object to the provision in the Constitution Bill requiring a majority of two-thirds of the Legislature to be created by that bill to legalize any changes in the constitution which may now be established. Your petitioners beg to point out that such a provision is utterly at variance with the practice of the British Parliament, and this fact they conceive ought, of itself, to be sufficient to ensure its rejection in a Legislature, the majority of whose members are solicitous to adhere as closely as practi
able to the principles and usage of the British Constitution. Your petitioners further beg to point out that the Legislature to be created under the Constitution Bill will have larger powers than that now in existence, and will consist of two Houses, while the present only consists of one, and therefore that it is not legitimately open to your Honourable House to seek to unduly restrict the new Legislature from making constitutional alterations which may hereafter be found desirable. No injury has yet arisen in the mother country from constitutional as well as other questions being decided in Parliament by a simple majority; and your petitioners believe that a similar practice will be the best which can be adopted under the constitution which it is proposed to confer on this colony.
That your petitioners are of opinion that in apportioning the additional representatives to be created under the Constitution Bill, the fair claims of the city of Sydney and county of Cumberland to more members have not been adequately met. They also venture to suggest that some of the more extensive electorates might be advantageously divided. At present some of them are so large, and the facilities for postal communication so unfrequent, that the electors residing in the parts more remote from the head polling places are virtually disfranchised.
That as regards the civil list secured to Her Majesty by the Constitution Bill, your petitioners submit that some of the services therein provided for might be better dealt with by special Appropriation Acts, subject to revision from time to time; and they venture also to point out that the pensions assigned to the higher functionaries of the Government who may be displaced by the introduction of responsible Government, are larger than the circumstances of the case require, or than the colonists can be fairly called upon to pay.
That while your petitioners are not desirous of seeing ministers of religion members, at all events of the Lower House of Legislature, they think that any legal enactment to disqualify them from being members of the Legislature is unnecessary, and it is not sound in principle. That your petitioners object to the provisions relating to the lessees and licensed occupants of Crown Lands in the last Clause of the Constitution Bill, and they take this objection, not from any unfriendly feeling to the squatting interests, but because they conceive that your Honourable House is not justified in seeking to impose restrictions on the power of the new Legislature to deal with any matter affecting the management of the waste lands of the colony.
That your petitioners venture respectfully and earnestly to pray that in passing the Constitution Bill through committee, your Honourable House will graciously take into consideration the objections of your petitioners to that measure, as stated in this their humble petition.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray,
To the Honourable the Legislative Council of New South Wales, in council assembled. The Petition of the under-signed residents of Illawarra, adopted at a public meeting held in Wollongong, on the 28th November, 1853, duly convened by the warden of the district, upon the requisition of several residents thereof,
THAT your petitioners, being sincerely attached to the principles of the British Constitution, view with alarm several clauses in the Constitution Bill now before your Honourable House, as a departure therefrom.
That your petitioners object to a nominated Upper House, believing that a House so constituted would not enjoy the public confidence; and, wanting that confidence, it could not exercise that power and independence necessary to secure for them a distinct and beneficial influence in the legislation of the colony.
That your petitioners' objections are further strengthened by the experience of other colonies; your petitioners being of opinion, that an Upper House composed of members of mature age, elected for periods longer than five years, and from larger electorates than those returning members for the Lower House, would more effectually and beneficially answer all the purposes for which an Upper House is designed, than a House of Crown
That your petitioners object to those clauses which provide for the creation of an hereditary titled class, believing it to be a step in the wrong direction, and inapplicable to the circumstances of the colony.
That your petitioners object to the clauses of the Constitution Bill requiring a majority of two-thirds of the Legislature to be created by that bill, to legalize any change in the constitution now established, being utterly at variance with the practice of the British Parliament; and further, that it is not legitimately open to your Honourable House to restrict the future Legislature, in making such alterations as may be found desirable.
That your petitioners respectfully submit that the additional representatives to be created, under the said bill, as well as those already existing, should be apportioned in a just ratio to the population.
That your petitioners are of opinion that the exclusion of any man, on account of his calling or profession, from the proposed Legislature, is impolitic, and an infringement on the rights of the people, as affixing a limit to their choice of representatives in the Legislature.
That your petitioners object to the provisions relative to the licensed occupants of the Crown Lands, because they conceive that your Honourable House is not justified in seeking to impose restrictions on the power of the new Legislature to deal with any matter affecting the waste lands of the colony.
Your petitioners therefore earnestly hope, that your Honourable House will take the premises into your mature and serious consideration; and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. [Here follow 174 signatures.]
To the Honourable the Legislative Council of New South Wales.
The humble Petition of the undersigned residents in the districts of Goulburn and
THAT your petitioners are most anxious that the form of government for this colony should resemble the British Constitution as closely as circumstances will permit, believing it to be, of all others, the most conducive to the welfare and happiness of the people at large; and that any essential departure from its principles must inevitably tend to the most calamitous consequences.
Under this conviction, your petitioners respectfully urge that your honourable House will affirm, in its leading principles, the Constitutional Bill now under your consideration, so that the government of the colony may be vested in three estates-a Governor, appointed by the Crown-a Legislative Council nominated for life-and a House of Assembly to be chosen by the people, in such manner as fairly to represent all classes and interests of the community.
And your petitioners will ever pray,
[Here follow 73 signatures.]
To the Honourable the Speaker and Legislative Council of New South Wales, in
The humble Petition of the undersigned Landed Proprietors, Tenant Farmers, and other
THAT it is the deliberate opinion of your petitioners that the new Constitution proposed for the government of this colony, if assented to, will prove ruinous to its best interests, subversive of the political rights and privileges of the community, and will cause discontent and disaffection throughout the length and breadth of the land, preeminently calculated to create a total disruption between the colony and British rule, and of that loyalty to the Crown which it has ever been, and still is, the proud boast and the ardent desire of your petitioners, and of the colonists generally, to maintain inviolate.
That your petitioners most solemnly, most anxiously, and most respectfully, but firmly, protest against the proposed constitution receiving the assent of your Honourable House,
1st. Because an Upper House of nominees, exposed to the popular suspicion of being
2nd. Because the selection of nominees may be from a class whose chief recommenda-
leges, would place in their hands the power to alienate in perpetuity the waste
4th. Because, although honour should be given to whom honour is due, and distinction to those who by substantial services have entitled themselves to such, upon similar grounds only which elicit such marks of the royal favour in Great Britain, yet, as the most distinguished in the colony are but commoners, moving in the ordinary walks of life, without other note or distinction than that which wealth gives them, your petitioners are of opinion, that to confer hereditary titles, merely
as a qualification for, or in consequence of, a nominee seat in the Upper House,
5th. Because, much as petitioners deprecate the idle and groundless ambition of the
6th. Because the future mode of class election, after the nominees shall have died, or
8th. Because nomineeism would effectually prevent the colony the privilege which it expects, and has a right to, namely, a government responsible to the people, without which the public cannot have any confidence either in the government or in the legislature.
9th. Because the clause enacting that no change shall be made in the proposed constitution, unless assented to by two-thirds of each House, is utterly opposed to every principle of the British Constitution; and though it may have been framed for the purposes of useful legislation, it is evidently more calculated to destroy it, by preventing any change or amendment in the Constitution likely to alter the nominee for the elective principle, and other objectionable portions of the bill. 10th. Because the proposed representation is not in a just ratio to the population, either of the electoral divisions of the colony, nor to the population at large.
11th. Because the proposed civil list is an extravagant and unjust appropriation— especially the pension items-of the public money.
12th. Because to exclude persons from being elected merely by reason of their profession or calling is highly unconstitutional, utterly opposed to the noblest features of the British Constitution, and a marked infringement upon the political rights of the people, because it limits the freedom of choice, and the time-honoured lawful privileges of the elector; as, though it does not absolutely dictate whom he shall elect, it does whom, or what class of persons, he shall not elect; which, being derogatory to, and abrogative of, the chartered rights of the British subject, your petitioners suggest, whether it is competent for your honourable House to entertain a Bill containing a provision so contrary to British Constitutional law. That your petitioners distinctly and unequivocally disavow all desire, or intention even, to insinuate any offensive reflection upon any member of your honourable House-it is nomineeism to which they object.
That upon the general question of framing a Constitution for New South Wales only it appears to your petitioners both strange and unstatesmanlike, as well as a most unseemly and untoward system of patchwork legislation, that Australasia, comprising but four colonies, dependencies, not far distant from each other, peopled by the same race, British subjects too, under one head, the Governor-General, the delegated representative of one Crown and one Constitution, shall be doomed to have no less than four Constitutions. The great study and aim of all practical British statesmen is not only to have and preserve one British Constitution, but also to assimilate the local laws of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, as being most conducive to maintain and advance international interests, and to promote and foster the happiness, the convenience, the intercourse, and the traffic, as well as the social and political harmony of the people, in order thus to neutralize, and, in time, obliterate national jealousies; while in Australasia the aim and effort of all legislative art appears to be not only to have four separate Constitutions, but that each shall differ as widely as possible; and thus such legislature, instead of advocating and promoting uniformity of Constitution and laws for the whole, will teach the first lesson and lay the early groundwork, and the bitter humiliating consequences, of separate Governments or States, independent of England, and opposed to her great and glorious Constitution.
Your petitioners would therefore suggest, that instead of your Honourable House passing into law the proposed Constitution Bill, that it be rejected, and that you request his Excellency the Governor-General to invite the Lieutenant-Governors of Tasmania Victoria, and South Australia, with delegates from each council, to a conference in Sydney to prepare one Constitution for Australasia, to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament and the Queen in Council.