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2-081 (Raw)

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addressee,male author,male,Bourke, Richard,56
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Government English
Imperial Correspondence
Clark, 1977
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2-081-raw.txt — 4 KB

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I would first briefly bring to your recollection the fact that there are two Parties, into which the Community of New South Wales is more or less divided; these Parties are usually designated Emigrants and Emancipists, although the respective Bodies are not confined to that Exact description of Persons, for, in connexion with the latter, are to be found a great number of free Emigrants, and generally those who advocate liberal principles. [327] I could not perhaps better convey a right impression of these two Parties than by mentioning the strong interest which is felt in the Colony in all the great events, which take place in England, and that the Sentiments of the liberal party here are with His Majesty's Government in all those measures of public improvement, which they are happily accomplishing. The existance of this general division of Parties in the Colony has been frequently recognised in Parliament, and would seem to have formed one of the strongest grounds for departing so widely from the Laws of England in the creation of the Legislative Council, composed of fifteen Persons wholly appointed by the Crown, and in the Institution of a Jury consisting of seven Military officers By the appointment of the latter, His Majesty's Government contemplated and affected the erection of an impartial though not a popular tribunal for the trial of offenders, and by reserving the nomination of the Members of the Council it was doubtless proposed to obviate the ill effects, which were apprehended from a preponderance of the Emancipist Party, if the choice were left to popular Election. It has happened however that the Selection of the Unofficial Members of the Council has been made almost entirely from the opposite side, and the official Members being for the most part inclined the same way, the evil of legislating for the whole community by means of a Council composed of one Party exists at this moment in full force, and is only checked by the power possessed by the Head of the Government to prevent the introduction of any Bills but such as he approves. This power is sometimes ineffectual, and, it being open to the Members to propose Amendments, occasion is offered for party feelings to operate, and the consequence of this state of things is that, in every question at all partaking of a popular character, the unofficial Members with but one exception are usually opposed to it. [...]
The experience I have had during the last Session, and the disposition manifested by the Council in certain cases have tended strongly to increase a Mistrust, which I had previously formed of the expediency of confiding so much irresponsible power to so small a number of Persons, who by combination may at least defeat the objects of Government, if they cannot secure their own. [...]
The mistrust of the Legislative Body, which is entertained by a large portion of the people, including in the number Persons of integrity, wealth and industry, appears in the numerous publications which issue from the Colonial Press. [...]
I would propose, as a partial remedy for the evil complained of, to open the doors of the Council Chamber to as many strangers as might he conveniently admitted If I might venture to propose that remedy, which under all the circumstances of the case appears to me to be the most free from objection, and calculated to afford the greatest relief, I would suggest the enlarging by Act of Parliament the present Council to about 24 Members, two thirds of which should be elected by the Colonists for the most populous Districts in a given proportion according to the number of the Inhabitants, whilst the remaining third and the President should be named by the Crown. At the expiration of four years, there should be a new Election and nomination. Professing that a Council so constituted is an approximation only to a representative form of assembly, and that it is intended to be temporary in its duration, I would confine the eligibility of Members to Persons, who had arrived free or were born within the Colony, but extend the right of election to all Persons qualified to serve as Jurors. [328]
I do not think that limiting by Act of Parliament the Eligibility of the Candidate in the same way that it is limited in Canada and Newfoundland, namely to Persons who had never been convicted of Felony or any transportable Offence, would be received with an ill-grace by the generality of the Colonists, nor even by the better thinking part of the Emancipists, few of whom stand in that relative position to the Electors as to be likely to be returned even if eligible to become Members of the Legislative Council.