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3-034 (Raw)

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author,male,La Trobe, Charles Joseph,51 addressee,male
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Government English
Imperial Correspondence
Clark, 1975
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3-034-raw.txt — 9 KB

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Upon the Commissioners rests the responsibility of the general enforcement of the regulations under which the Gold Fields are worked, and to them, according to the position which they hold in various quarters, the police and all subordinates look for instructions and general guidance in the discharge of ordinary duty.
It will be perceived that, viewing the magnitude of the interests at stake, and the necessity of providing a competent authority on the spot to which the many questions of urgency constantly arising in working the multiform details of a perfectly new system, might be at once referred, as well as to ensure uniformity of arrangement in the different divisions of the field, I have deemed it proper to appoint a Chief Commissioner; and I have selected to this end an officer of considerable experience, and possessing qualifications which in this particular position would render his services of value.
I may state that Mr. Wright, into whose hands I had already in February last committed the duty of exercising the general super-intendence at Mount Alexander under the temporary title of Resident Commissioner, has been Commissioner of Crown Lands in this colony for some years; previously to which he held a similar appointment, and was also attached to the survey department in New South Wales. [10] He was formerly an officer in Her Majesty's service as subaltern in the 50th regiment. The good effects of his experience and management both upon the different branches of the Government service and as respected the population on the field in general, was so evident and satisfactory, that I did not hesitate to place him in a more decided position to exercise influence and devote his whole attention and services in behalf of this new department, and I trust that your Lordship will approve of the measure.
The great weight and responsibility which attach to his office point out the expediency of the nomination of one or two officers as intermediate between the chief and the ordinary Assistant Commissioners, either as strictly resident Commissioners at the more important head quarters of the distant fields, or as aids in the general superintendence; but my proposed arrangements are not complete in this respect. The whole correspondence of the department with the Colonial Secretary's office, as far as the Gold Fields themselves are concerned, pass, of course, through the Chief Commissioner.
The position of the Assistant Commissioners, of whom I have hardly yet a sufficient number, varies according to circumstances. Some are necessarily required in carrying on the business at headquarters, and others stationed in charge of out-districts. A fair proportion have been placed in the commission of the peace, to act independently or to assist the local magistrates in the bench business when requisite.
Two of the number are specially charged at Castlemaine (or Forest Creek) and at Bendigo with the sole duty of managing the so called "gold-tent", the receipt and despatch of all Government or private gold to town by escort, &c., while they are altogether relieved from the duty of issuing licences. In common with all other Commissioners on the ground in any way connected with the management and custody of the revenue, they enter into bond and give security for the faithful performance of their duty.
The Inspectors are employed under the particular orders of the respective Commissioners, their duty being to assist in apportioning out the various claims, in deciding disputes, or bringing them under the notice of the Commissioners, and in detecting unauthorized and unlicensed occupation of the field.
The appointment of two medical gentlemen for the Mount Alexander and Bendigo districts respectively was found absolutely requisite for the service of the large staff of police and subordinates on the ground. They are also duly authorized to act as coroners, for the satisfaction of the public. Inquiry into the cause of all deaths occurring on the Gold Fields either from natural or accidental causes, as well as from violence, if such occur, is immediately made, and it is gratifying to see that the coroners find no difficulty in collecting juries, and in performing their duties. [11]
The establishment of branches of the post office for the advantage of the public, both at Forest Creek and at Bendigo, needs no comment.
The return of clerks also requires no remark. I have sought to secure as far as practicable the services of really respectable men, whose private conduct, as well as competence to discharge their duty, might strengthen the hands of Government in the peculiar position in which they are placed.
The absolute necessity of bringing a ready administration of justice within the reach of the large population of the Gold Fields was early impressed upon me, and hence the appointments which have been made under this head. The two gentlemen named in the list are stationed at Forest Creek (Castlemaine) and Bendigo respectively. They are not required to exercise surveillance over the police on the ground, which duty rests with the respective Commissioners, but to sit daily in petty sessions, assisted, if necessary, by the Assistant Commissioners; and, in short, are at hand and ready in the field at all times for the despatch of business. They have each under their immediate orders a chief constable and clerk of petty sessions.
Of the two other gentlemen, one is stationed with the usual staff of a bench of petty sessions and a party of police at Keynton, [sic] an increasing township on the main line of thoroughfare from Melbourne to Mount Alexander. The other, Mr. Eyre, acts both as resident magistrate at Buninyong and Ballarat and, until the Gold Field assumes greater importance in that quarter, as Assistant Commissioner in charge.
The foot police, though of course distributed over the field, and each party under the more immediate orders of the Assistant Commissioners, have been as a body placed under the general control of an officer in the commission of the peace, and ranking otherwise as an Assistant Commissioner.
Their duties in maintaining order, repressing the illicit sale of spirits, and assisting in giving effect to the regulations are too clear to require explanation. Many obstacles have been experienced, as your Lordship will have been apprised, in raising and maintaining a sufficient force of this description in a proper state of efficiency. Even when proper men could be found, accoutrements and many of the appliances requisite or desirable to these ends were wanting. The very character of the service exposes them to temptation of various kinds, which it is no wonder that men of ordinary character or principle would scarcely be proof against. I can only repeat that little or no dependence can be placed upon a purely civil police under existing circumstances. [12]
The obstacles that have to be met in forming an efficient body of this character [mounted police] are even greater than those to be surmounted in enrolling a foot police, and yet its maintenance is in many respects of still greater importance. The same observations which have been made above apply equally to it. The head quarters of the corps I have stationed at Carlsruhe, near Keynton [sic], about forty-five miles from Melbourne, and twenty from Forest Creek. The difficulty of securing proper quarters, stabling, accoutrements, and supplies, whether at Carlsruhe, on the field, or in town, and the hardship and discomfort which those deficiencies give rise to, may justify in some measure the indisposition which has been remarked amongst the proper class of men to enrol or continue in the service. The seduction of the Gold Field is, however, doubtless the main obstacle in the way. A certain number, however, have been brought together, whose conduct both on the Gold Field or in charge of prisoners, and more especially as escorts over the gold from the field to Melbourne has been very satisfactory. The latter is a very heavy service.
The circumstances and agreement under which the services of this small body of men [enrolled pensioners] were obtained from the neighbouring colony of Van Diemen's Land for the term of one year, have been fully reported in a previous despatch; and I only need here repeat that when out of the way of temptation on the Gold Field, and in the steady performance of set duties suited to their age and habits, under the eye of their officers, their general conduct has been open to no exception. The main body continue at head quarters at Forest Creek, under the command of the officer under whose special control they were placed on their enrolment in Van Diemen's Land. The detachment at Bendigo is commanded by a subaltern officer of the 11th regiment, whose services have been temporarily secured with the concurrence of the Major General commanding.
To secure the speedy erection of the necessary quarters, and the formation and repair of roads, both throughout the workings and, on the main thoroughfares, would require a far larger staff than I have found it practicable to engage on the work, but no effort and no pecuniary sacrifice will effect what might be held desirable; however, some advance is made, and another dry season and the ' increase in the population may lend some further facilities.
I include further, under the head of ecclesiastical, the provision ,' made for the extension of the ordinances of religion to the scattered population of the Gold Fields, which cannot be computed at less than 50,000 and upwards. The assistance which I have offered from the gold revenue to the heads of the four principal divisions of the Christian community has been most gratefully received, and I am quite sure that, were it only to be regarded as an act of policy, it has tended greatly to the maintenance of good feeling among the crowd, as well as to the decent outward observance of the Sabbath, which has been from the very beginning a most striking feature of our Gold Fields. [13]