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No. 11. COPY of a DESPATCH from Governor General Sir CHARLES A. FITZROY to the Duke of NEWCASTLE.
Government House, Sydney, February 28, 1854.
MY LORD DUKE,
I HAVE the honour to forward herewith a petition addressed to Her Majesty by certain inhabitants of the northern districts, praying for the erection of those districts into a colony separate from New South Wales.
2. This petition is stated to "bear the signatures of more than a thousand "and sixty persons, including three members of the Legislative Council, "twenty-nine magistrates of the territory, several clergymen and ministers of religion, and many other highly influential, intelligent, and wealthy members "of the community;" and it has been transmitted to me by Mr. H. Stuart Russell, the member for the Stanley Boroughs, in a letter in which I enclose a copy.
I have, &c.
125.* Aug. 11,
3. As far as I am at present advised, I see no reason to alter the opinion I have already on more than one occasion expressed against the separation of 104. June 30, 1852. the northern districts from New South Wales; but should I see any reason to 160. Sept. 17, revise that opinion during the visit which it is my intention to make to that 198.* Dec 3, part of the colony, I shall not fail to report fully to your Grace on the 114. Sept. 6, 1853. subject.
209.* Dec. 29,
His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, &c. &c. &c.
CHAS. A. FITZRO Y.
Enclosure 1 in No. 11.
To his Excellency Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy, K.C.H. Captain-General and Governorin-Chief of New South Wales, and Governor-General of all Her Majesty's Australian possessions.
Brisbane, February 23, 1854.
Ar the request of a committee appointed at a public meeting held in Brisbane on the 1st November last, I have the honour to transmit to your Excellency a petition from the inhabitants of the northern districts, praying for the erection of the said districts into a colony, separate from New South Wales; and I am further requested to ask your Excellency to transmit the document, at your earliest convenience, to the Queen's principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, for presentation to Her Majesty.
The petition now forwarded to your Excellency for this purpose bears the signatures of more than 1,060 of the inhabitants of the northern districts, including 3 members of the Legislative Council, 29 magistrates of the territory, several clergymen and ministers of religion, and many other highly influential, intelligent, and wealthy members of this community. Appended to the petition are copies of the local newspapers reporting the public meeting on the first of November last, and also a duplicate of this letter to your Excellency. These documents are intended for the information of Her Majesty's advisers, and I am to ask that your Excellency will be pleased to forward them to London with the petition.
Since the public meeting before alluded to, the honourable the Legislative Council has expunged the 51st clause of the New South Wales Constitution Bill, under which the petitioners protested; but the inhabitants generally desire to place on record their protest against the meditated interference of the Legislative Council with a right properly appertaining to the Queen and Parliament, so that no similar attempt hereafter may be justified by their silence on the late occasion. Besides, irrespectively of protesting against the intended 51st clause of the Constitution Bill, the petition again prays Her Majesty to establish a separate colony in the northern districts, and additional reasons in favour of this measure are adduced. Since the adoption of the petition, opportunities have been afforded for testing the truth of some of the statistical assertions therein, and it has been proved that the sales of land in the northern districts have exceeded the rate of 35,000l. a year, and that the exports of those districts have considerably exceeded 400,000l. in value during the year 1853.
The petitioners, therefore, adhere to their resolutions, and respectfully solicit your Excellency's favourable recommendation of their prayer for separation.
Owing to the manner in which the population of these districts is scattered over a vast extent of territory, the collection of signatures has caused some delay, and the number forms only a small proportion of those who are willing and anxious to join in the prayer and protest made to Her Majesty. It has not, however, been considered advisable to wait for the many other signatures expected from the country districts, but to despatch
* These Despatches will be found already printed in the papers relative to Convict Discipline, Dec. 1852, and July 1853.
Encl. 1 in No. 11.
See "Moreton Bay
Courier," 5 Nov. 1851, "Moreton Bay Free
Press," 8 Nov. 1851.
Encl. 2 in No. 11.
the petition at once. The distance of some of the stations, and the primitive state of postal communication, made it necessary that many persons should transmit their signatures on half sheets of foolscap paper, which have been subsequently attached to the petition. As these signatures are all headed by a printed declaration of their object, there can be no difficulty in receiving them as the bonâ fide appeals of the writers for the separation of the northern from the middle districts. Your Excellency's knowledge of the scattered condition of the population here will enable you to point out the difficulties attendant upon the collection of signatures to this petition, which is, nevertheless, far more numerously signed than any other document of the kind ever forwarded from these districts.
As Mr. John Richardson, member of the Legislative Council for the county of Stanley, presided at the meeting on the first of November last, I should probably not have considered it a part of my duty to address your excellency had that gentleman been now present; but in his absence I have yielded to the request of the committee in placing these explanations before your Excellency, for the information of his grace the Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.
I have, &c.
(Signed) HENRY STUART RUSSELL, Member of the Legislative Council for the Stanley Boroughs.
Enclosure 2 in No. 11.
To Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen.
May it please Your Majesty,
WE, Your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, the undersigned inhabitants of the districts lying to the northward of the thirtieth parallel of south latitude, in the colony of New South Wales, beg leave to approach Your Majesty with sincere attachment to your royal throne and person, and with full confidence that the justice and wisdom which have distinguished Your Majesty's auspicious reign, will insure redress for the grievances of your faithful subjects in this portion of Your Majesty's dominions.
By the 34th and 35th sections of an Act passed in the 13th and 14th years of Your Majesty's reign, and intituled "An Act for the better government of Her Majesty's Australian Colonies," it was provided that Your Majesty might, on petition of the inhabitant householders, detach the territories lying northward of the 30th degree of south latitude from the colony of New South Wales, and erect the same into a separate colony. In accordance with this provision, several petitions were transmitted to Your Majesty, praying Your Majesty to exercise the power so vested in you by Parliament. In reply to one of these petitions Your Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, in a Despatch, dated December 27, 1851, stated, that if the inhabitants of these districts should continue dissatisfied with the representation allotted to them in the Legislature, and should again petition for separation, Your Majesty would be advised to grant that boon. The grievances before complained of by Your Majesty's petitioners continue to be severely felt, and the inhabitant householders again petitioned Your Majesty for separation from New South Wales, in accordance with the provisions of the Act of Parliament, and the pledge of Your Majesty's Secretary of State. To this petition a reply has recently been received, dated "Downing Street, May 4, 1853," and announcing that Your Majesty had been pleased to receive the petition very graciously, but had not been advised to issue any instructions on the subject to which it related. While thus the inhabitants of these districts are awaiting the signification of Your Majesty's pleasure, with full confidence in the justice and consideration of Your Majesty and your constitutional advisers, an attempt is being made in the colony of New South Wales, by parties interested in retaining the northern districts as a mere dependency of that colony, to defeat the intentions of the said 34th and 35th sections of the Act of Parliament aforesaid, and to deprive Your Majesty of the right of separating these districts from New South Wales. In the 51st clause of a bill now under consideration in the Legislative Council, and intended to be submitted for Your Majesty's approval, it is proposed that the colony of New South Wales shall not be curtailed on the northward within the 26th degree of south latitude. As the declared object of this bill is "to confer a constitution upon New South Wales," the effect of this clause would be the permanent retention of all the northern districts, from the 30th to the 24th degree of latitude, as part of that colony, which, without such addition, would still occupy a coast line of more than seven degrees of latitude. Against this attempt, so fraught with injury to Your Majesty's petitioners, the few representatives of the northern districts have hitherto appealed to the Legislative Council in vain. It would be unreasonable to expect due consideration from a hostile majority, identified with the interests of Sydney and the Sydney districts; and accordingly, although the members of Council for the northern districts are unanimously in favour of separation, their remonstrances are unheeded, and the objectionable clause stands part of the New South Wales Constitution Bill.
Your Majesty's petitioners respectfully, but most earnestly, protest against this interference with Your Majesty's rights, guaranteed by the Imperial Parliament; and they SOUTH WALES. implore your Majesty not to assent to any provision of the said bill, having for its object the abrogation of that great privilege which Your Majesty's Parliament and ministers have led your faithful subjects in these districts to hope for.
The district situated northward of the 30th parallel of south latitude, on the east coast of Australia, are now partly located as far north as the 24th parallel, and westward for six degrees of longitude. The population of these districts is at present estimated at fifteen thousand souls; but this number would be rapidly increased if the control of the local revenues were vested in a local Council, for then an adequate system of immigration would be provided for. At present a law exists in New South Wales binding assisted immigrants to remain for a certain period in the colony, or repay their passage money. This law does not prevent immigrants from leaving the northern districts for the southern gold fields; but if a separate colony were established here, a similar enactment would tend to keep immigrants in these districts. The annual revenue derivable from the sale and occupation of waste lands in the northern districts is estimated at 35,000l. The customs duties payable upon articles consumed by the inhabitants amount also to about 35,000l. annually; and the various items of revenue annually derivable from other sources are calculated at 5,000l.-thus making a gross revenue of 75,000l., the whole of which ought to be collected in these districts. The exports, amounting to 400,000l. annually, form a good guide to the amount of duties derivable from imports; but nearly the whole of the customs dues of the northern revenue are at present collected in Sydney. The mineral wealth of this territory is expected to add largely to its pecuniary resources, when the country shall have been properly explored. At present the existence of iron, lead, and copper, has been satisfactorily proved; and the coast country, from the 28th to the 30th degree of latitude, has been officially ascertained to abound in coal. The stock depastured in these districts, according to the official returns for 1852, consisted of 11,292 horses, 370,602 cattle, 2,153,212 sheep, and 4,906 pigs; the market value of the whole being 1,942,1837. The freehold interest of the inhabitants in land and houses is valued at 680,000l. The soil and climate of the northern districts, besides being suitable for the growth of those articles of ordinary consumption which can be cultivated in the middle district, are peculiarly adapted to the culture of tropical and semi-tropical productions, such as cotton, sugar, arrowroot, indigo, and coffee; the export of which articles hereafter is likely to mark, in a striking manner, the natural distinction between the northern districts of Australia and the colony of New South Wales proper. But your Majesty's petitioners humbly represent that all these great natural and acquired advantages are counteracted by the political evils arising from the connexion of these districts with New South Wales. The great distance of the seat of Government, and the intervention of a large tract of unoccupied country between the settled part of New South Wales and the proposed southern boundary of the northern colony, prevent any community of interest between the inhabitants of the northern and the middle districts; and the consequence is that Your Majesty's petitioners and their representatives have no practical influence in the enactment of laws by which they are to be bound. The great cost and inconvenience of attending at a Council five hundred miles from home is another serious grievance. The continuance of this system must perpetuate discontent and disunion amongst a portion of Your Majesty's Australian subjects; for it is contrary to the interests of the inhabitants of the Sydney districts to do full justice to your petitioners, who cannot, therefore, feel satisfied with the acts of the Sydney Legislative Council.
Your Majesty's petitioners therefore pray Your Majesty to take their case into favourable consideration, and at once to redress their grievances, and assert your own royal authority, by erecting the districts lying northward of the 30th degree of south latitude on the eastern coast of Australia, into a separate colony, with the seat of Government at Brisbane. And Your Majesty's petitioners will ever pray.
COPY of a DESPATCH from Governor General Sir C. A. FITZROY to the
Government House, Sydney, March 1, 1854.
MY LORD DUKE,
I HAVE the honour to forward herewith a copy of a communication from the Honorary Secretary of the New South Wales Constitution Committee, covering a petition on the subject of the New Constitution for this colony, addressed to Her Majesty by certain inhabitants of the town and district of Yass. I have, &c. (Signed)
CHAS. A. FITZROY.
The Duke of Newcastle, &c.
Encl. 1. in No. 12.
Encl. 2. in No. 12.
February 11, 1854.
Enclosure 1 in No. 12.
Sydney, February 27, 1854.
By direction of the New South Wales Constitution Committee, I have the honour to forward you herewith a petition to Her Majesty the Queen, from the inhabitants of the town and district of Yass, on the subject of the New Constitution, which has been confided by the petitioners to the committee, to be put in the proper channel for transmission. I am directed respectfully to request that his Excellency the Governor General will cause this petition to be transmitted to Her Majesty at as early a date as may be practicable. I have, &c. (Signed)
W. G. PENNINGTON,
The Honourable the Colonial Secretary,
Enclosure 2 in No. 12.
To the Queen's most Excellent Majesty.
The humble petition of the undersigned inhabitants of the town and district of Yass, in the colony of New South Wales,
THAT your petitioners approach your Majesty with a deep sense of unfeigned loyalty to your royal person, and of attachment to and respect for the throne and institutions of Great Britain.
That your petitioners desire to see established in this country a constitution and form of government framed in accordance with the genius and spirit of the constitution of their mother country, which your petitioners believe to be the views entertained by your Majesty's present advisers.
That in particular your petitioners desire a Legislature composed of two Houses, both based upon popular suffrage, and founded upon a just and equitable apportionment of the representation to the numbers, intelligence and property of the community, and of all classes and interests within it.
That a bill has been introduced into the Legislative Council for the establishment of a Constitution for this colony, which is wholly opposed to the wishes and interests of your petitioners, and to all sound principles of British liberty.
That the present Legislative Council does not, and cannot, as now constituted, represent the voice of the people of New South Wales, and that it is therefore incompetent to frame a constitution which will be satisfactory to the people of this important section of your Majesty's dominions.
That your petitioners rely with perfect confidence in this matter on the enlightened sentiments which sway your Majesty's councils, and in the wisdom and justice of your Imperial Parliament.
Your petitioners, therefore, pray that your Majesty will withhold your assent to any measure which shall fail to embody the views and wishes of your Majesty's loyal petitioners as herein expressed, and that your Majesty will be graciously pleased to cause a bill to be introduced into the Imperial Parliament in accordance with the opinions of your petitioners.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
COPY of a DESPATCH from Governor General Sir C. A. FITZROY to the
Government House, Sydney, May 19, 1854. (Received August 8, 1854. (Answered No. 25. August 10, 1854, Page .)
MY LORD DUKE,
I HAVE the honour to forward herewith copy of a letter from Mr. William Curry forwarding a petition on the subject of the proposed new constitution for this colony, addressed to Her most gracious Majesty by certain inhabitants of Maitland and the neighbourhood.
The Duke of Newcastle,
I have, &c. (Signed)
Enclosure in No. 13.
C. A. FITZROY.
Maitland, February 27, 1854.
On behalf of the Maitland Constitution Committee I have taken the liberty of forwarding to you a petition, prepared by the committee, to Her Majesty the Queen, against certain provisions of the New South Wales Constitution Act as passed by the Legislative Council of this colony. The petition has been signed by 742 inhabitants of Maitland and the neighbourhood.
The committee beg to request that you will be good enough to lay this petition before his Excellency the Governor General, and to solicit his Excellency on behalf of the committee, that he will be pleased to transmit the petition for presentation to Her Majesty. I have, &c.
(Signed) WILLIAM CURRY,
Secretary to the Maitland Constitution Committee.
Sub-Enclosure to Enclosure in No. 13.
To the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty.
The Humble Petition of the undersigned Inhabitants of Maitland and the Neighbourhood, in the Colony of New South Wales,
THAT the local legislature has recently passed an Act to confer a constitution on this colony. That this Act, while providing in some important respects for desirable amendments in the present constitution of the colony, contains some provisions which your petitioners appear to be highly objectionable.
That the clause providing for 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 obtain the confidence of the community, and that, wanting that confidence, a house of nominees will not possess the weight and independence necessary to secure for them a distinct and consenitive 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 intelligence, and the permanent residents 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 principles under the present constitution of the colony.
That your petitioners strongly object to the provision in the 17th clause of the Act requiring a majority of two-thirds of the House of Assembly to realize any changes in the system of representation established by that Act; and still more to the corresponding provision in the 42d clause, requiring a majority of two-thirds of both Houses to alter the constitution of the Legislative Council. Your petitioners respectfully submit, in the first place, that these provisions are contrary to the usage of the British Parliament, which the experience of centuries has shown to be a safe and beneficial one; in the second place that it is unreasonable and unjust to give to the minority on constitutional questions a power which on all other questions is exercised by the majority; and in the third place, that this endeavour to unduly check in a young and rapidly growing country whose conditions and circumstances will be frequently changing, the alterations which from time to time must become needful in the constitution, will be more likely to endanger than to conserve the institutions of the colony; for where impolitic obstructions are placed in the way of necessary amendment, an incentive is thereby created to overturn and destroy.
That your petitioners are not satisfied with the apportionment of the representation under the Constitution Act; that in that apportionment there is obvious injustice done to some of more populous electoral districts, and an undue proportion of representatives allotted to some of the more thinly peopled districts.
That as regards the civil list secured to Your Majesty by the Constitution Act, 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. They beg also to point out that the pensions assigned to the officers of the Government who may be displaced by the introduction of responsible government, are larger than the circumstances of the case justify, or than the colonists can be fairly called upon to pay.
That your petitioners venture to express their belief that, if the provisions in the Constitution Act which are herein pointed out as objectionable be amended in accordance with the views of your petitioners, the constitution for the colony will be rendered more accordant with the character and spirit of the institutions of the mother country, more acceptable to the great body of the colonists, and better calculated to secure their political rights, and promote their welfare.
That your petitioners, therefore, humbly and earnestly pray that Your Majesty will graciously cause such measures to be adopted as to Your Majesty may seem meet, for making the Upper House, created under the New South Wales Constitution Act, elective; for causing all constitutional as well as other questions to be decided by simple majorities in both houses; for rendering the distribution of the representation more accordant with the just claims of the respective electoral districts; and for diminishing the amounts permanently appropriated by the civil list.
And your petitioners, &c.