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until the New Zealand Company, composed entirely of pure colonial reformers, was established, and showed in perfection what a colonizing Robert Macaire could do with a large capital, a directorate of credulous capitalists, and an array of still more credulous colonists.
The First Parliament of Australia. The first Legislative Council, which contained twenty-four elected representatives, in addition to the nominees and official members, met for the first time, for the despatch of business, on Thursday, August 3, 1843, and was opened by Sir George Gipps, in the following speech, which it may be interesting to compare with those delivered by the respective governors of the three colonies, at the first opening of the assemblies with more extended powers, in 1851:
“Gentlemen of the Legislative Council.
“ The time has at length arrived which has, for many years, been anxiously looked forward to by us all; and I have this day the pleasure to meet, for the first time, the Legislative Council of New South Wales, enlarged as it has been under the statute recently passed by the Imperial Parliament for the government of the colony. I congratulate you very sincerely on the introduction of popular representation into our constitution, and I heartily welcome to this chamber the first representatives of the people.
“The period, gentlemen, at which you enter on your functions, is one of acknowledged difficulty, and it is therefore more grateful to me to have my own labours and responsibilities lightened by your co-operation and assistance.
“I shall most readily concur with you in any measures which may be calculated to develop the resources of the colony, by calling into action the energies of the people, taking care, bowever, that we proceed on sure principles, and not overlooking the great truths, that the enterprise of individuals is ever most active, when left as far as possible unshackled by legislative enactment, and that industry and economy are the only sure foundations of wealth. Great as undoubtedly are the embarrassments under which numbers, even of the most respectable, of our fellow-subjects in the colony are now labouring, it is consolatory to me to think, that grievous though they be to individuals, they are not of a nature permanently to injure us as a community; that, on the contrary, they may be looked on as forming one of those alterations in the progress of human events which occur in all countries, and perhaps most frequently in those whose general prosperity is the greatest.
“Nor should we, gentlemen, enter upon the labours of this session, without making our grateful acknowledgments to Almighty God for the many blessings he has showered down upon us. Our embarrassments may be the effect of our own errors—but it is to His bounty and goodness we are indebted, that the fruits of the earth, as well as the productions of industry, abound throughout the land. If, in addition to the monetary confusion which has grown out of our excessive speculations, it had pleased the Almighty further to chastise us with drought or scarcity, the condition of New South Wales, and more particularly that of the labouring classes of its population, might have been lamentable indeed. As it
SPEECH OF SIR GEORGE GIPPS.
is I do not doubt that, by frugality and prudence, we may overcome all our difficulties; and, I am happy to say, there is nothing in what more immediately concerns the government, to lessen in any degree the confidence which I feel in the stability of the country. Cheapness and plenty cannot be permanent impediments to the advancement of any community.
“I shall immediately cause to be laid before you numerous public documents of much importance, and some projects for amendment in the law. Amongst these latter will be the draft of an act for the establishment of a General Registry, and of one to regulate the office of sheriff. I shall also have to direct your attention to the state of the law under which the Savings' Bank of the colony is established : the propriety will, I think, be readily admitted of placing the credit of this most useful institution beyond the reach of doubt.
“I shall speedily cause the estimates for the year 1844 to be brought under your consideration, and take advantage of that occasion to make a clear exposition of the financial state of the colony.
“ The despatch from the Secretary of State, No. 181, of the 5th September, 1842, is a document of such importance, that I think it ought to appear on the record of your proceedings, and accordingly I shall lay it before you, notwithstanding it has been already printed by order of the late council.
“In this despatch, the views are explained of her Majesty's Government in respect to the Act of Parliament under the provisions of which I now meet you for the first time in this chamber.
“ The benevolent intentions of her Majesty, her Majesty's advisers, and of the British Parliament, are so well set forth in the words of the noble Secretary of State, that I feel I should only weaken the effect they are calculated to produce upon you were I at any length to comment on them, or make to them additions of my own. I cannot, however, gentlemen, on this my first occasion of addressing you, avoid adverting to the peculiar constitution which has been given to your body—or to the fact, that to you singly have been confided by the Imperial Parliament the powers which, in some of the older colonies of Great Britain are divided between two separate bodies.
“The council, gentlemen, is composed of three elements, or three different classes of persons—the representatives of the people—the official servants of her Majesty, and of gentlemen of independence—the unofficial nominees of the Crown.
“Let it not be said or supposed that these three classes of persons have, or ought to have, separate interests to support-still less that they have opposing interests, or any interest whatever, save that of the public good. Let there be no rivalry between them, save which shall in courtesy excel the other, and which of them devote itself most heartily to the service of their common country.”
After the delivery of this speech the council adjourned until two o'clock, when the opposition commenced without delay its longbrooded operations, as shown in “ Votes and Proceedings":
“Motion made and question put, " That an humble address be presented to his excellency the governor, returning thanks to his excellency for his speech to the council.'
“Moved as an amendment that the word 'humble' be expunged; passed."
The following case, gathered from the reports of the committees of the Legislative Council appointed to inquire into certain gross cases of embezzlement and mismanagement, affords one example of the "patronage grievance,” of the sort of persons selected for colonial office, the nature of the powers they assumed on the strength of holding a home instead of a colonial appointment, and the manner in which they performed their duties.
The Defaulting Registrar.
In 1841 the Registrar of the Supreme Court became a defaulter; in the following year he took the benefit of the Insolvent Act, and eventually paid a dividend of sixpence in the pound.
The committee which investigated his case, with the view of obtaining redress from the home government for the sufferers by the malversation of their appointed, reported, that the first registrar, Colonel Galway Mills, was a decayed gentleman, with no knowledge of business, and who, therefore, left what there was to be done to other officers. On his death the governor and council recommended that the office, in the then state of the colony not needed, should be abolished; but, before receiving or without attending to this recommendation, the defaulter in question, Mr. M was appointed. His antecedents were not more encouraging than those of Colonel Mills. In 1811 he had executed a deed of assignment of all his property for the benefit of his creditors ; and in 1823, after returning from an eight years' residence on the Continent, had taken the benefit of the Insolvent Act; in 1828 had been appointed chief justice of Nova Scotia, and had been permitted to exchange the appointment for that of registrar of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, with the duty of collecting the effects of intestates, and, according to his own account, the privilege of investing the money for his own benefit pending its distribution.
On arrival at the colony he took up a high position; that part of his duty which related to registering deeds of grants of crown land he entirely neglected and suffered to fall into an arrear, which eventually involved great numbers of the humbler class in litigation and ruin. But the collection of the estates of intestates he entered on as zealously as any wrecker on the spoils of storms. The presence of near relatives was no protection for the moneys of the deceased; in defiance of son, brother, or father, he grasped all the estate, invested it in his own name, for his own benefit, and from 1828 to 1838 kept neither daybook, cash-book, nor ledger, but one account at his banker's, rendered
DEFALCATION OF THE REGISTRAR,
no statement for audit to any one, and paid over what balance, if any, to the next of kin of intestates when and how he pleased.
In 1838 the judges made rules of court requiring the registrar to pass his accounts and pay the balance into the savings' bank.
The great man remonstrated against these rules in a most indignant tone, “as threatening to take from him a source of legitimate income, on the faith of which he immigrated to the colony," and intimated that, “unless he was permitted to retain and make use of the money himself, he would use no exertions to obtain it."
At this audit he reported himself to be in possession of £1,989 17. 0}d., but the court, after argument, found £3,085 18s. 2d. due, compelled him to pay it into court, and, in spite of violent resistance, in which he was supported by one of the official legal advisers of the governor, had a set of rules of court sanctioned by the governor in council, under which the registrar was bound to account regularly and pay in the proceeds of every intestate estate within a certain fixed time (three months from the period of the intestacy); the injured registrar all the time protesting that “the judges were reflecting on his honour by calling for accounts, and depriving him of the legitimate profits to be derived from the employment of other men's money, which had induced him to settle in the colony."
The judges being firm, and supported by the council, the registrar then resorted to fraud, and in the course of two years became possessed of £9,000. When no longer able to conceal his appropriations, he announced his insolvency in a debonnair yet dignified manner—a condescending, much-injured style—which could only come from a colonial official.
The sufferers by this embezzlement petitioned for compensation from the home government. The correspondence with the appropriator is extremely rich and racy. Throughout he appears to consider himself deeply injured. The home government rejected the prayers of the petitioners.
The Patronage of the Law Courts. The next case is illustrative of the confidence with which colonial secretaries set aside colonial recommendations; the avidity with which they embrace opportunities of patronage; the indifference with which they increase salaries ; and the admirable skill with which certain governors imbibe the principles of the chiefs.
The judge, Chief Justice Dowling, finding it needful to recommend that certain offices included in the charter of justice should be filled
up, and especially that of prothonotary, at a salary of £800 per annum, for which he recommends one Mr. John Grover, late chief clerk, “ who, from his long services, indefatigable industry, and experience, is admirably qualified for the office;" the Governor Gipps, the late captain of engineers, enters into a correspondence, as was his custom, with the judges, in which he instructs them how to manage the business of their courts, and save £50 a year.
The judges demur, and show the governor that he knows nothing about the matter.
The question is referred to the colonial secretary, Lord Stanley, who settles the question in King Stork fashion, without a moment's loss of time. He does not appoint the gentleman recommended by the judges; in other respects he follows the recommendations of the governor,
and sends out two new officers, one at £1,000 a year, and the other at £850 ; creating a third for appointment, at £650, by the governor ; at a blow saddling the colony with increased salaries to the extent of £400 a year, on the ground that in England competent persons could not be induced to accept these offices for less. An early act of one of these gentlemen was to set at defiance the local legislature on a matter of salary, while the other was a ruined, aged, brokendown attorney.
We have only to imagine, in order to understand colonial feeling on these subjects, the case of the town council of Liverpool applying for a stipendiary magistrate, stating their willingness to pay a salary of £800, and suggesting a particularly well-qualified gentleman to fill it, and their receiving a total stranger, with orders to pay him £200 more than they had offered. It seems the rule with all officials appointed from England to treat with the greatest contempt the colonists who pay them.
The Lunatic Asylum.
An inquiry into the management of the Colonial Lunatic Asylum brought out facts equally characteristic of the independence and irresponsibility of all officials, up to the time that the elected members of the Legislative Council began to exercise their privilege of inquiry. Again, in 1846, a select committee of the Legislative Council investigated the condition of Tarban Creek, the only lunatic asylum in New South Wales. In the course of this inquiry it appeared that the head keeper and his wife, the matron, in consequence of having received their appointment direct from the Secretary of State, had habitually resisted all attempts to control or even investigate the performance of