Tuesday 13 Oct 1868
MR GRAHAM BERRY AT THE CROWN HOTEL
Mr Graham Berry addressed the electors of West Geelong last evening at the Crown Hotel. Mr Miller was voted to the chair, and the hall was crowded. The chairman having asked for an impartial hearing for Mr Berry, introduced that gentleman to the meeting, and he was received with applause.
Mr Berry gave a retrospective view of his career, and alluded to the wide difference that existed between his political views and those of his opponent, and said he was quite prepared for a sharp contest; both parties, he said, would do their best. He was astonished to find that Mr Johnstone had come forward as a candidate on the side of the Loyal Liberals. When, however, he saw by whom that gentleman was surrounded, he did not think the particular portion of his address would interfere with the solid ranks of the Loyal Liberals. There was more wanted of a man at a political election than the clap-trap replies to clap trap questions. He alluded to Mr Johnstone as one who attempted to gain his election with a subterfuge. He was glad there was at present a lull in politics, and he hoped the question which underlied the Darling grant would never again be mooted, but he did not think that question had been satisfactorily settled. They had been told that the Constitutional Association had a love for the working man—(A Voice—So it had.)—they had been told it had a philanthropic motive, and a gentleman with dulcet tones had endeavoured to lull his hearers to sleep. They had been told that the roaring lion was only a cooing dove, and he asked them to remember what would have been the fate of this country if there had been a little less energy on the part of the popular party. He alluded to the Sladen Ministry as having held office against all the recognised laws of the Constitution. Was there any reason to suppose that the party who had opposed the popular party would not spring up? (Confusion, Mr Berry being told, to behave himself like Mr Johnstone had done, &c. Cries of Johnstone is as loyal liberal as he is, etc.) Mr Berry said the parties who interrupted the meeting would not interrupt him. If he had been met fairly he would have fought fairly. (Why don’t you, then. Confusion, hooting, and Mr Johnstone is an honourable man.) There was a small section who endeavoured to upset the election, who endeavoured to stifle public opinions (Tremendous confusion, bleating of sheep, applause, &c.) He would take it as a compliment if they endeavoured to stifle him; it showed they were afraid of the truths he would utter. (Applause and confusion.) It might not bo quite so pleasant, but hecould assure them the remarks made by Mr Shannon would do him as much good as any speech he could make. (Applause.) He was his best supporter, and he would like to know bow they would like a ministry backed up with such intelligent men as Mr Shannon. (Applause : and confusion—Mr Shannon asking why the candidate had blackguarded the Irish in his rag, of a paper.) Mr Berry said, if the members of the Constitutional Association meant– to make a guy of their chairman; if they liked to spend their money in fireworks and have a fifth, of November before its time, they , could do so. – (Confusion and hooting.) – If they had kept to the principles of their party—(Uproar.) If they stood to their colors he would have some respect for them, but he had none for them now (confusion, Mr Shannon asking what was meant by the term loyal liberal?) Mr Johnstone now said he supported a principle which he had hitherto consistently opposed. Mr Johnstone would have hit him if he could but he could not find an opening. He would tell them he was earnest in these matters, and he would hit the opposing party as hard as he could; (confusion); those present would give the parties who opposed the meeting a sufficient answer privately by the ballot-box. It was quite necessary to explain on the platform his principles. “When a man came forward on a false platform it was quite necessary he should explain the positions so that none might be elected on false pretences; it behoved the liberal party to be on the alert. (Applause, and cries of Collingwood Jackdaw, and laughter). There was nothing new in the principles he was advocating, years ago he advocated free selection before survey, and they might rely upon it lie would do all he could to carry out that work. (A tremendous hubbub here arose.), Mr Berry challenged Mr Shannon to come on the platform; if Mr Shannon came on the platform he would not be able to say six consecutive words, and a dog could interrupt a meeting. ‘Mr Shannon replied that the candidate was no better than a dog; a dog would not betray his country. Similar interruptions followed, and eventually comparative silence being restored, Mr Berry spoke for some five minutes upon the benefits that had accrued to the country from the working of the Amended Land Act; any parrot, he said, could talk about the good done by the 42nd clause, and twitted Mr Johnstone upon saying that three millions of acres had been taken up under that clause when only 500,000 acres had been so taken up, and still he said that was a great deal. He had always been on the liberal side of the land question, and ever should be. (Here another scene took place, Mr Berry defying the party who opposed him to turn him out, and he asked them if they had not always found Mr Johnstone against the popular party. Uproar, cheering, and boo-hooing). Mr Johnstone’s party had always been his opponent, and they would always be so, as he hated their narrow-minded principles, and would always oppose their getting the government of the country. The candidate here resumed his seat amidst hooting and applause.
Mr Phillips—I want to ask Mr Berry if he gives Mr M’Culloch and Mr Grant any credit for passing the Amended Land Act, because that night be seemed to take all the credit upon himself? (Cries of, that’s no question.) Well, if it was not a question it would lead to one. How was it that Mr Jones and Mr Berry endeavoured to oust the M’Culloch Ministry, who had done so much good? He lost his sent for Collingwood, and Jones lost his seat, for Ballarat for it.
Mr Berry said the gentleman wished to learn something about the Land Act. For his information, he would read his speech from Hansard on the second reading of the Amending Land Act, in which he had advocated increased rent for pastoral lands, and a liberal land act. So dissatisfied was he and his party with the original Land Act, that they cheat the Government again and again, and forced them to incorporate liberal clauses in the bill. He then read over the votes given by himself on the land question. Amongst others, his vote where he voted against the clause
which allowed the land selected to be assigned in twelve months, and carried a clause that it could not be assigned until after three years. This, he maintained, did away with a great deal of dummyism on the part of the squatters.
Independent members, he maintained, were at that time the best members in the House, and it was no use a man going in bound hand and foot to support a certain parry, and-thatwas why he would not answer a question that was put to him the other night in the affirmative. He again maintained that he had forced liberal clauses, on the Government.
Mr Phillips commenced to speak again, but could riot be heard. Suddenly, Mr Brown, of Chilwell, said they need not listen to him. He had paid him (Mr Phillips) at the last election. Mr Phillips explained— He had not been paid. He was up at Rokewood at the time of Mr Carr’s election, and he had merely been paid his expenses; they could not expect a poor man to pay his own expenses. (Applause.) He had heard Mr Brown say he would carry in a candidate on his back if be would givehim £6. (Laughter and uproar.)
Sir Phillips then said, how was it then it Mr Berry so pinned his faith to the M’Culloch Ministry, how was it that on other occasions he had so inveterately opposed
them. He referred to the articles which had appeared in the Geciong Register just previous to the South Grant election, and said no more inveterate articles were written against the M’Culloch Ministry than appeared in the Register at that time. (Applause and confusion.) No answer was vouchsafed.
Mr Shannon referred to a paragraph which had appeared in that morning’s Register, and asked who it was that had signed Mr Johnstone’s requisition and had said he did not know what he was signing. Mr Shannon was met with names, and cries from all parts of the room, ih the midst of which Mr Robins jumped up to move the vote of confidence in Mr Berry, when a scrimmage ensued, but nobody was hurt. Some degree of quietness having been restored, Mr Shannon insisted upon Mr Berry answering the question.
Mr Berry said he was not going to give Mr Shannon the names.
Mr Shannon then wanted to know why Mr Berry had attacked the Irish because eight of them happened to be present at a public meeting; and he maintained that English, Irish, and Scotch had all equal rights to attend a public meeting.
Mr Berry said all such questions as that were irrelevant to the meeting, but he was willing to tell Mr Shannon that what he said was untrue; he never blackguarded Irishmen or anybody else. He had heard of this before. It was simply a letter that had appeared in his paper, giving an account of a meeting of the Constitutional meeting; it might have been written by Shannon or anyone else. The letter said they were chiefly Irishmen there. (Mr Shannon—There were only eight.) “Well, were they ashamed of being there ? it only mentioned their names, there v/as not a word of comment. (Mr Shannon—It was done for a political purpose.)’
Mr Liddle explained why he had joined the Constitutional Association. (Uproar.) A public meeting was called, and he went there to speak. (Uproar, and cries of get down.) They would not let him speak because he did not agree with them, and so he had joined them, being determined to speak (confusion) and he had been the means of preventing that meeting from being reported as a public meeting of the citizens. (Uproar.) He thought the names of the parties who signed the requisition should be published: It was not fair to] publish half-a-dozen names, and then say it was signed by two hundred other persons.
Mr Robins then proceeded to propose the usual vote of confidence, when he was interrupted by loud cries.
A gentleman then asked if Mr Berry was in favor of emigration. Mr Berry said that was a question that wanted defining. He was in favor of emigration as existed at present. He was in favor of the postal service by the Cape and emigration by that route, but he was not in favor of the indiscriminate emigration which existed sometime ago, when the scum of the country were poured out here. The vote of confidence was seconded by Mr Morgan.
An amendment was proposed by Mr Shannon, and seconded by Mr Duffy.
The amendment and proposition were then put, and the chairman declared the proposition carried, some holding up their hands for both. Cheers and groans were then given for both candidates, and this concluded one of the noisiest meetings ever held in Geelong.