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Although I apprehended no act of hostility towards the Government Establishment, I took every precaution in my power to have the military and police forces available for any purpose to which they might have been called, though not exposed to view. I have, &c.
The Hon. the Colonial Secretary, Melbourne.
(Signed) W. H. WRIGHT,
Enclosure 9 in No. 14.
Resident Commissioner's Office, Sandhurst,
I HAVE had the honour to address you in a separate communication on the proceedings of the miners at these Gold Fields yesterday, and it now becomes my duty, after consulting with the Chief Commissioner of Police, to submit the views we have arrived at with regard to the policy which may be desirable on the part of the Government to pursue upon the question which has created the present agitation amongst the miners generally.
We are compelled to report, that the reduction of the License Fee, if not its abolition altogether, is inevitable.
We are convinced that the force at present on these Gold Fields is sufficient, not only for the protection of life and property, but to ensure the apprehension and punishment of any person committing a breach of the law; but no force would avail to overcome the passive resistance which we anticipate will be the course acted upon by the instigators of the movement.
We will venture to give as an example the supposition, that fifty unlicensed miners should be brought to the police office each day; supposing each case to occupy only fifteen minutes, the presiding justices would have to sit twelve hours.
Chief Commissioner of Gold Fields.
At this rate, by the end of a month, after an enormous expenditure of money and labour, the license would only have been exacted from twelve hundred persons, in a population estimated to include twenty-five thousand miners or other persons liable to be proceeded against. Again, the period for which the license is issued would render the same course necessary to be repeated within a few days to secure the same number of delinquents, and possibly these the very same individuals. It is too evident, therefore, that the system must be abandoned.
The storekeepers and traders possessing considerable property on the Gold Fields, who it was expected would, by readily taking out their licenses, have demonstrated their support of the present law, have been swayed by purely pecuniary consideration to a different course, it having been urged on the miners not to deal with any who take out license, or who do not placard that they take no license. As instancing this, some storekeepers of undoubted character have stated, that whilst they desired to take out licenses, they would from considerations I have stated, allow themselves to be arrested and pay a penalty of five pounds.
What I have here laid before you is upon the assumption that passive resistance alone will be opposed, but if blood should once be shed it is impossible to foresee the consequences, but it would very possibly throw serious obstacles in the way of establishing any regulations to be enforced on the Gold Fields.
Whatever is determined on, we must submit the urgent necessity of its being made known both to the officers on the Gold Fields and to the miners, before any coercive steps are taken to enforce the existing law at the commencement of next month. As revenue must be obtained, it is to be considered in what manner, and we would submit the immediate introduction of an export duty, and accompanied by such a moderate capitation tax as would be sufficient for purposes of registration.
I have, &c.
(Signed) W. H. WRIGHT,
Enclosure 10 in No. 14.
August 29, 1853.
THE Lieutenant-Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, has come to the decision of proposing without delay another mode of raising a revenue in lieu of that now derived from the Gold Fields, namely an increase of the present duties of customs, together with an export duty on gold, and a small registration fee of persons engaged on the Gold Fields, and this measure will at once be presented to the Legislative Council, but in the meantime you are instructed to adopt no compulsory measures for the enforcement for the month of September of the License Fee; but in the meantime, until the result may be known, it is out of his Excellency's power to release the miners, and other occupants of the Gold Fields, from the obligation of paying the fee prescribed by law.
The Resident Commissioner.
I have, &c. (Signed)
Encl. 9 in No. 14.
Encl. 10 in No. 14.
Enclosure 11 in No. 14.
Encl. 11 in No. 14. MR. SPEAKER AND GENTLEMEN OF THE Legislative Council,
THE circumstances under which I was induced to defer the opening of the present session of the Council, as first proposed, from the beginning to the close of he month, were made known to the members by the Colonial Secretary's circular of the 21st of July; I trust that the delay will not have been productive of either public or private inconvenience.
2. The good providence of God again enables me to congratulate you and my fellow colonists upon the general state of the Colony, and the continuance of that marvellous increase in every element of prosperity, which has for some time marked our history.
3. Various subjects of great public interest, and measures of importance, now ask for your grave consideration. I would, however, in the position in which I am placed, press upon your immediate attention only those measures which may appear to admit of no delay.
4. At the close of the last session, in proroguing the Council, and adverting to the assent which I gave to the bill for the alteration of the then existing Eectoral Act, I expressed my conviction that this measure need only be deemed preparatory to an early and full consideration of the existing constitution.
Such proves to be the case. The Secretary of State's despatches of the 15th December, and 8th February last, which I had the pleasure of communicating to each of you immediately after they came to hand, announce the intention of Her Most Gracious Majesty to grant enlarged constitutional privileges to her Australian subjects, and assure them, on proper safeguards being adopted, of her readiness to make over to them the power hitherto reserved by the Imperial Government for fixing a civil list, controlling the crown revenues, and managing the waste lands of the crown.
I propose to take an early opportunity of initiating proceedings on this most important subject, on which so much of your ultimate prosperity depends.
I would congratulate the Council upon the augmentation effected in the number of its members under the Act above adverted to; and upon the increased facilities thus secured for the performance of its legislative duties.
5. In obedience to instructions which I have received, I shall shortly lay before you the draft of a bill to amend in some particulars the Convict Prevention Act, to several clauses of which, while admitting the gravity of the evils which it was designed to oppose, Her Majesty's Government have taken objection. Sufficient time will be afforded to pass an Act so amended, before formal notification of this disallowance will be given.
6. I cannot here but briefly allude to the final cessation of transportation, of which we have been assured, during the recess; and I do this with a feeling of great thankfulness and the expression of my sincere sympathy in the views and sentiments of the people and the legislature on the subject.
7. A bill for promoting education will be introduced in accordance with the recommendation of the Select Committee of the Council appointed last session. The great advantage derivable from having but one system in operation need scarcely be enforced upon you; efficiency and economy can be in no other way secured with certainty.
8. The draft of a bill for the regulation of the law of marriage, proposing the amendment and consolidation of the various existing laws, was laid before you last session, and I would now recommend it to your serious consideration.
9. A bill for the regulation of pensions was also submitted to you, and at an early period will be brought more formally before you.
10. The present Act for the management of the Gold Fields will expire with the year. In any case it would be necessary to pass another Act; but the objections to the present License Fee, and the practical difficulties in the way of collecting it, have forced themselves latterly so strongly upon me, that I am disposed to propose to you its total abolition, merely reserving a registration fee for police purposes. A loss of revenue to a large amount will thus be incurred, which I propose to supply by a revision of the tariff, including an export duty on gold. It is my desire that every regard should be had to the just and reasonable wishes and interests of the class of colonists which may be more directly affected by these arrangements. I shall be happy to afford the Council every facility and information which may assist its deliberations on the subject.
11. The Act authorising liens on stock will also expire. I purpose submitting an amended bill on the subject.
12. Some proposed modification of the police and pilot Acts respectively, will also be presented to your notice in due course, to give greater efficiency in certain particulars to these services, as well as an emendation in the laws relative to prison discipline.
13. The Central Road Board have suggested some improvement in the law relating to roads, and a bill to carry out their views will be presented to your notice.
14. A bill to amend the law relative to recognizances, with a view more effectually to compel the attendance of witnesses in criminal cases, will be submitted to your attention.
15. I think it due to the municipal body, as well as for the ultimate welfare and health of the large population resident within the corporate limits, to draw your attention again to the state of the suburban-additions to the city-Collingwood more especially. I shall
also introduce a bill making it in certain cases imperative on the inhabitants of Melbourne to flag the footways opposite their dwellings.
16. A bill for the better regulation of slaughter houses, and a general measure for the better management of cemeteries, will likewise be laid before you, without much delay.
17. It is my duty to urge strongly upon you the advantage of further emendations in the Postage Act. It appears to me highly expedient to follow the example, which has proved most beneficial in England, of making the prepayment of letters compulsory and I would wish to facilitate the establishment of a money-order system between Great Britain and this colony. My attention has also been drawn by the Secretary of State to the desirability of securing to the inhabitants of this country the advantage enjoyed by those of other colonies, in the cheap transmission of books and periodicals from the mother country.
18. I am happy to be able to congratulate the Council upon the working of the new tariff. It has fully realized the anticipations formed with respect to it.
But, irrespective of the revision of rates to which I have already alluded, I am convinced, upon further and matured consideration, that the experience of other countries, and the propriety of obviating the temptation to illicit distillation, point to the necessity for an addition to the small list of articles paying duty; and I shall in the course of the session propose the imposition of a moderate duty on sugar.
19. The license fee paid by publicans has not been raised since the alteration in the value of money. You will, I am sure, agree with me that the present rate is clearly disproportionate to similar imposts. I shall therefore propose, that the existing charge be augmented; and that a license fee be also imposed upon persons engaged in the wholesale wine and spirit trade.
From the experience obtained since the last session, I would recommend to the Council the propriety of again considering the adoption of some means by which, with due restrictions, the retail of fermented and spirituous liquors may be permitted within the limits of the Gold Fields.
20. Amongst the official correspondence which will be laid on your table, that which relates to the establishment of a Mint in this colony will be read with interest. It will be for you to decide whether the advantages gained will countervail the cost at which they must be purchased.
In accordance with the expressed wish of the Council, I have taken measures for the establishment of an office for the assay of the precious metals, availing myself, as soon as circumstances permitted, of the services of an assay master of undoubted experience. I trust that before the end of the year the office may be in full operation.
21. It has appeared to me that, considering the extraordinary increase in the population since March 1851, it may be desirable in many points of view to secure a fresh census, and in the course of the session, I shall therefore cause a bill to be submitted to you for carrying out this object.
22. Such may be considered a brief summary of the more prominent measures which call for your attention beyond those which are ordinarily and in due course submitted to you at this season.
23. An uninterrupted stream of immigrants, both assisted and unassisted, continues to reach our shores. It will be my duty to place upon your table various despatches of great interest, with regard to the former class especially, received during the recess.
The Report of the Select Committee of the Council, as amended and adopted, has been forwarded by me in due course to the Secretary of State, and has been accompanied by recommendations in consonance with the views of the Council.
I have again urged the subject of female immigration more especially upon the attention of Her Majesty's Government. A further sum of 100,000l. has been remitted, and there are ample funds at command to meet increased expenditure under this head, should the Council be disposed to recommend that course. But as I had, previous to the receipt of the Despatches from Sir John Pakington and the Duke of Newcastle, before adverted to, considered it my duty to point out to Her Majesty's Government the propriety of the Legislative Council of the Colony being invested with the complete control of the entire territorial revenue, whether hitherto held to be appropriated or unappropriated, and the tenor of the above despatches showing that Her Majesty's Government is prepared to admit the justice of the measure, I do not wish to make such further remittance without express concurrence of the Council.
24. The estimates of revenue and expenditure for 1854 are in a state of forwardness, and, together with a supplementary estimate for the current year, will be laid before you without delay. The latter will be seen to include many sums, the propriety of expending which has been indirectly sanctioned by the Council, though not included in the act of appropriation.
Reserving detailed remark and allusion to many points of general or special interest connected with the present and future financial arrangements of the colony for my financial minute, I may congratulate the Council upon the increase which will be remarked in every branch of the ordinary revenue, and the very large amount which the unrivalled prosperity of the colony will enable it to devote to public purposes. At the same time, regarding the enormous charges which attend every branch of the service, and the
Encl. 12 in No. 14.
impossibility of foreseeing even for a limited period their extent or character, I am fully impressed with the responsibility which is incurred by myself and the heads of departments in administering such large funds.
25. I have done all that lay in my power to carry into effect the wishes of the Council, as expressed in various addresses presented during the last session. I have particularly called the attention of Her Majesty's Government to various subjects, the advocacy of which was entrusted to me.
It will be seen, in due time, that I have sought to bring the question of the occupancy and sale of the waste lands of the colony, fully and fairly before Her Majesty's Government. The result, which I am now daily awaiting, will be communicated to the Council without delay.
I shall direct copies of various despatches, received in reply to direct addresses to the Secretary of State, too numerous to specify in this place, to be at once laid on your table.
26. Other subjects of interest, which it may be iny duty to bring under your notice, will be communicated in the usual way, by message. I need not assure the Council that I shall at all times be ready to receive the expression of its wishes, and seek to co-operate with it in promoting the public interests by every means in my power.
27. In glancing at the general state and prospects of the community at this time, satisfactory as these may be, I cannot forbear referring to the agitation which has latterly arisen and prevailed, to a certain extent, on the Gold Fields, principally in condemnation of the present licensing system and its results. I have already expressed my anxious desire that as the time has arrived when the existing act will have to be reviewed, the subject should receive the fullest consideration on the part of the Council.
In the meantime, I am persuaded that the Council will coincide with me in drawing a clear line of distinction between that popular agitation which may accompany the exercise of an undoubted right of appeal or remonstrance against any grievance, springing out of the imperfection of the laws or mode of their administration, and an agitation which assumes a very different character,—is traceable, in fact, to other impulses,—and whatever may be its ostensible objects, points more or less clearly to a state of things, as subversive of good government and public order as it may be repugnant to the feelings of the great mass of the community interested in their maintenance.
Viewing the circumstances, Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen, under which I address you at the opening of the session, and the probability that before its close I may have surrendered my charge into other hands, it may not be unbecoming in me, or out of place, to admit that I cannot but entertain some degree of personal pride in having been permitted, under God's favour, to mark and record the advance of Victoria, for so many successive years, in importance and material prosperity-latterly with a rapidity of growth, which, unexampled as it has been, has made her an object of interest to the whole civilized world.
But I can truly say, that what has been my greatest source of satisfaction, and one which I cling to, and would take away with me, is the confident belief that the moral growth of this colony will be found to be fully proportioned to her physical expansion. I would firmly trust, whatever anomalies, or even attendant evils may be observed, that the good far outweighs the bad; that the heart is loyal and sound; and that the great majority of her popalation, of all classes, are lovers of law and order, and ready to venture all to maintain it.
I would take this opportunity of assuring the Council of my sense of the support, which I sincerely believe it has ever desired to afford me and my advisers, under times of peculiar trial and difficulty.
Government Offices, Melbourne,
30th August 1853.
Enclosure 12 in No. 14.
C. J. LATROBE, Lieutenant-Governor.
Colonial Secretary's Office, Melbourne,
His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor directs it to be notified, that the proposed abolition of the license fee to dig gold in no way affects the obligation of any one to pay the current license fees, until a new Act may be passed by the Legislature.
In the meantime the law must be obeyed; his Excellency relies on the good sense and loyalty of the community, and to the influence of their example in supporting order and maintaining the law.
By his Excellency's command, 、
Enclosure 13 in No. 14.
Colonial Secretary's Office,
2. These causes having now, in his Excellency's opinion, had sufficient time to operate, you will proceed in the usual manner to collect the license fees for the present month.
3. His Excellency is well aware of the trying position in which several of the Commissioners may at this time be placed, but he places implicit reliance on their address and firmness.
4. You will take such measures as you may think necessary to give the utmost publicity to the inclosed notice.
The Resident Commissioner, Castlemaine.
I have, &c. (Signed)
Enclosure 14 in No. 14.
Ar a Public Meeting of gold miners, at Jones' Creek, held on the 30th August, 1853, the following resolutions were put and unanimously carried; Mr. Montgomery in the chair:
1. Moved by Mr. Joseph Bourne, seconded by Mr. Gray. Carried unanimously.— "That the committee of the Jones' Creek Anti-Gold License Society do form a part of a deputation, with fifteen volunteers to be chosen from this meeting, to tender to the Commissioner on behalf of the diggers the sum of ten shillings as a license, for the ensuing month."
2. Moved by Mr. Gillies, seconded by Mr. Williams. Carried unanimously.
"That this meeting pledge itself to effect no compromise with the Government respecting the ten shillings license, and that every man who is determined to hold out in not paying more shall wear, as a mark of distinction, a red hat-ribbon, or other favour." (Signed) "JAMES H. MONTGOMERY, Chairman."
At a Meeting of the diggers on the following day, the 31st August, 1853, Mr. G. S. Frazer in the Chair, the following resolutions were put, and unanimously carried :—
Moved by Mr. Frazer, seconded by Mr. Bourne. Carried unanimously.
"That the committee, consisting of Mr. Bourne, Mr. Gillies, Mr. Williams, Mr. Bramwell, Mr. Drew, and Mr. Sperrey, shall proceed to the camp, and lay before the Commissioner the resolutions adopted by the previous meeting.
"The above-named gentlemen having acted in accordance with the above resolution, returned to the meeting and intimated to them the courteous reception they met with, and the willingness of the resident official to suspend all proceedings against the diggers until something definite be received from head quarters.
"At the close of the meeting three cheers were given for our most gracious Sovereign,' three cheers for 'her representative, Mr. Templeton,' three cheers for the prospects of the cause.'
"The meeting then dispersed, expressing their determination to use every effort in their power to obtain by moral means what they consider their right as British subjects, and to suppress to the utmost of their ability everything tending to promote anarchy and misrule."
"GEORGE S. FRAZER, Chairman."
1st. "That the deputation formed by the committee and diggers do request the Commissioner to suspend the arrest of any non-licensed diggers, until an answer be returned from the Government regarding the question at issue between the Government and the mining population."
2nd. "That this meeting yields not to any one in their feelings of love and loyalty to Her most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, but at the same time would represent to the authorities that the subject brought before them concerns the most vital interest of the
Encl. 13 in No. 14.
Encl. 14 in No. 14.