Governor Charles Darling

Election victory. The difficulty, however, was mostly with the Legislative Council. To avert the defeat of its proposals the Ministry, supported by a large majority in the Assembly, attached the tariff to the Appropriation Bill, with a view of asserting the supremacy of the representative Chamber in matters of finance. The Council had previously rejected the Payment of Members Bill, which had been passed by the Assembly, and the Government was determined that there should be no repetition of such behaviour as far as the tariff was concerned. The Council, however, threw out the Appropriation Bill, and consequently deprived the Government of the means of paying the public servants and meeting its liabilities. The Ministry saw a way out of the difficulty. The new duties were collected, and advantage was taken of a clause in the Audit Act which empowered the Governor to sign the warrants necessary for the payment of any sums awarded by judgments of the Supreme Court to persons who had sued the Government. Forty thousand pounds was borrowed from the London Chartered Bank, who sued the Government for the amount at the instigation of Sir James and his colleagues. The necessary warrant having been signed by the Governor the Treasury paid the amount to the Bank, who re-loaned it to the Government, and so the process was repeated and repeated, and the deadlock got over.  1865 March 1865. The council thwarted its own reform early in 1865 but the land issue was solved for the time being by Grant’s Act of March 1865. However, the McCulloch government’s attempt to introduce the first major protective tariff in Australia led to the main crisis. The assembly tacked the tariff bill to the annual appropriation bill, but the government had miscalculated the strength of feeling in the council where the bill was thrown out in July. With Darling’s approval, the government continued to collect the new protective customs duties, relying on a resolution of the assembly. But the funds from the Customs House were inadequate to meet day-to-day administrative expenses, especially the need to pay the civil servants. The government then negotiated a series of short-term loans with the London Chartered Bank, whose sole local director was the premier. The bank then sued the Crown for the return of the money; by a series of court actions the government confessed judgment and the bank was repaid by vouchers drawn on consolidated revenue. The procedure incensed the council, the other private banks, the Argus and a large section of the commercial community. After a Supreme Court decision the government ceased to collect the new duties and seemed likely to be able to resist the council indefinitely. The assembly decided not to pass any appropriation bill until the council had passed the tariff. Darling tried in vain to arrange a conference between the two Houses, but in November the assembly sent up a separate tariff bill which the council promptly rejected. Thereupon Darling agreed to the government’s request to dissolve parliament, and at the assembly elections in January 1866, 1865 1865 election victory. In 1865 the Government appealed to the country because the Legislative Council rejected the Tariff Bill when sent up separate from the Appropriation Bill. The electors returned the Ministers with an increased following. The Tariff Bill was once more forwarded to the Council, which body again threw it out.

1865 twenty-two former cabinet ministers, who had served as members of the Executive Council, petitioned the Queen complaining of the financial and constitutional irregularities which Darling had permitted. When transmitting the petition Darling commented adversely on both the petition and the character of the petitioners and stated that it would be impossible for him to accept any of them in the future as cabinet ministers because he believed that they were conspiring to remove him.

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