The Ballarat Star
Monday 30 January 1871
ELECTION FOR MORNINGTON.
THE CHIEF SECRETARY AT CRANBOURNE.
On Saturday Sir James M’Culloch addressed the electors of Mornington at Cranbourne, the meeting being largely attended.
Mr Lyell was voted to the chair. He briefly observed that he had been previously of a different opinion, but now he went in for a Conservative Government, and which, judging by times gone by, had shown itself as likely after all to be the best. At all events, his change of opinions had compelled him to support Sir James M’Culloch, and he had no doubt but his opinion would be supported by the electors of the district after they had heard the candidate that evening. He therefore begged to introduce the hon. gentleman to the meeting.
Sir James McCulloch, on coming forward, was received with cheers. He stated, after returning to the constituents for the manner, in which he had been received for the past eight years, that he had always endeavored to carry out the statements which he made, and the intentions he anticipated, in regard to the constituency he had so long represente. When he looked back upon the views of the constituency, and the views he himself represented, he considered that he had nothing to regret, and now it appeared to him that he had had no occasion to change his views, after experiencing the changes the times had undergone. When asked some time ago to form a Ministry he had thought it necessary to come before the constituency, and then he found the duty a very awkward one, owing to having to act, and with some degree of difficulty, with several with whom he was obliged to join in order to form a party. He endeavored to find the best Government he could, however, under the circumstances; and although the chairman and many others might have differed from him in regard to his choice of associates, he had done the best he could. In fact, so far had “opinions” gone, that it was stated that unless Mr G. P. Smith was a member of his Government, that Government would not be acceptable to the country. A very fine statment indeed! However, on that matter the constituency had its own opinion probably, and so had he, and he felt satisfied at wha he had done in respect to the arrangement arrived at then. Many had complained of his having taken into his Government Mr Macpherson as Minister of Lands, but he had found him an honorable man, and until the formation of the following Ministry, of which he (the Chief Secretary) was the chief, he had had no idea of the differences existing betwee the last Government, whatever they might have been. As regarded the statements which had been made by many interested individuals, that he had departe from the liberal ideas he had previously expressed; he had only to say that such was not the case, his object, and the object of the Government, being to carry out really practical measures. His address was, perhaps, unusually long, but he imagined that it spoke for itself, although there were points of particular interest, and one point in particular, namely, education, a subject which had occupied the attention of public men all over the world, and to which he wished specially to refer.
There was distributed the sum of £186,000 out of the country’s funds for the purpose of public education; and such a sum, as compared with the English grants of one million two hundred thousand pounds, showed that the colony was spending more money than the mother country in the way of education. Seeing tha such an expenditure was occasioned,:it comes to be asked as to whether the special advantages intended to be obtained by such a means of education were really secured. But the difficulty then occurred as to State interference in regard to general education. A measure on the subject had recently been passed in the mother country, but he did not think it would ever work under such circumstances as there existed. There they had established prejudices, but such was not the case in this country, where denominations differed after a narrow sectarian view.
As a whole, in fact, if the clergymen of this colony confined themselves to the religious education of their flocks, and allowed the State to look after the other portion of the education, it would be far better for all. (Cheers.) In some districts clergymen did their duty; but in many districts the neglect of the clergy was apparent enough even for remark. He had himself passed through several districts lately where the clergy had never visited, and therefore he might so endorse the opinion he had formed, that the State should interfere with, secular education alone. In reference to this subject the hon. gentleman drew attention to some remarks madeby the Anglican Bishop of Melbourne, from which it was shown as his opinion that the clergymen of the country districts were not paying that attention to their duties which those duties required. Several cases were mentioned by the hon. gentleman, in which it was stated that the children did not even know the rudiments of Christianity, as exemplified by the statements of the clergymen who attended to give evidence at the Education Commission appointed to enquire into the subject. Seeing such to be the ease, he could not understand why the State should not be left with the duty of secular education alone, it being the duty of the clergy throughout the country to step in and afford that religious education which they should inculcate. The various religious denominations might conform safely, excepting, perhaps, the Roman Catholics, and so effect the desired object. The want of education and the desirability of making it compulsory was also a matter deserving of every consideration, and although it might be said that compulsory education was interfering with the liberties of the subject, it was better to interfere in that respect than to interfere afterwards, when, perhaps, from the want of proper tuition, the youths were led into crime. The speaker here referred to the evidence of Dr Macdonald, as taken before the Education Commission, with the view of showing that the secular and religious forms of education should be dealt with separately. He himself, thought that the colony should only throw upon the State the duty of secular education singly, and then, as he had previously stated, both classes of education would be attended to. It had been shown from the statistics lately prepared that there were 175,117 children fit for education in the colony, and only 130,172 at school, so that at least 45,000 children were at large without education—a comparative result which showed that some steps were necessary to have education enforced.
The hon. gentleman, in further referring to compulsory education, read from ; the reports of school inspectors of other colonies, and one of which reports finished by the statement that there was a law even to protect the public against the thistle nuisance, whilst the uneducated children were growing up like kangaroos. (Hear, hear.) The State, in its notion of secular education, meant to allow every facility for religious education as well, and although the matter had been objected to as likely to cause antagonistic feeling, he could nut see how such should be the case. Different times of meeting might be fixed under such circumstances for the children of the various denominations, and even if it went to that, he did not see how children of different religious instincts should not be allowed to associate together.
Regarding the matter of State support, it was intended to give the schools plenty of time—say from three to five years—to realise upon their holdings; and even under the law it was allowed to denominations to sell their buildings and land, the proceeds to be appropriated for school purposes connected with, the denomination. As regarded the Board of Education, he gave it all the credit it deserved, but it ; had come to be found that the board was outside the management of the Government, and it was then obvious that it should be brought more directly under the control of Parliament. From what he had stated it might be seen that the Government intended going in for a system of secular education, with the other advantages in reference to the sale of schools accruing to the school .themselves. As to the federation question between the Australian colonies, and about which a commission had been appointed, he might state it as his opinion that the colonies would eventually becomes a united whole, and although it might; be some time ere that epoch arrived, it would nevertheless come, they might be assured. Many difficulties arose on the question as to customs duties, and many other matters, and he felt them in connection with the late conference. One question, however, might be stated in regard to the tariff matter, as to which colony should have the privilege of first making an alteration in the tariff, and on that point much difficulty might arise. The Government, he might observe, was fully in favor of a bill to permit union being passed by the Home Government, such, in his opinion, being necessary for the success and safety of the combined colonies.
Regarding the neutrality question and the probabilities of war with the mother, country, much, might be said, but he thought it impossible for the colony of Victoria to remain neutral and still remain united to the mother country. The lonian Isles, it. had been said, were under a neutral law at’ one time, but the case in regard to that country and the colony; of Victoria was wonderfully different; the people here, although being Victorians, still remaining subjects of Great Britain, and by which they were bound. England, he believed, would never give up her colonies, as he was sure that the colonies would stick by England;’as he had no doubt they would be better for sticking by her feelings of nationality, as Britons were, strong and not to be got rid of so that the colony in the way of petition with the mother country was best to adhere to the alliance.’ The federation question, as exemplified in Canada, might be raised as a proof of the necessity here; but the circumstances were different it is so much different there as compared to what it is in the colony. It were better in his opinion to allow inatters to take their course so that the colonies might assert a stand as their circumstances required and as their experiences called forth, and which would in a few years hence no doubt be the case. Regarding the re-distribution of seats m the Assembly,’ he might observe that the matter was forcing itself upon the attention of the Government. Referring to Ballarat, Avoca, and Mornington; he might observe that some change was absolutely necessary. Mornington, for instance, being, only represented by one member with its 1300 and odd electors, as against Kilmore with its 400 electors and one member. The matter he had no doubt, however, would be remedied. Regarding the
payment of members question, he inight observe that he was pleased at its being passed without reference to the present members, and only as applicable to the members of the future Parliament. So far he was satisfied in the matter, and he would have been pleased if the members of the Upper House had been placed in a similar position but they were not. At all events, with the view of remedying the evil, and such it was, he might state that the Government was in favor of the introduction of a measure reducing the tenure of office in the Upper House. By that and other means many of the difficulties, at present existing, and which had, frequently operated in the way of deadlocks, would be avoided, and so both sections of Parliament might be better assimilated. There, was no desire to interfere with the Legislative Council, although he believed that the whole power of rejecting money bills was with the view of stopping hasty legislation. Therefore it was proposed in the case of a rejection on two separate occasions of money bills, that an appeal, to the country should be made, and which would be very easily brought about. The Legislative Council was intended merely as a check and with that view it was intended to introduce the innovation referred to, and which would, no doubt, prevent many dead-locks in future. As to the tariff question, he might state that the measure when first introduced was more opposed than necessary, as he believed that the change would tend to the benefit of the colony at large. His object there was that the public should have the benefit, and he believed it would have the benefit in the introduction of a fair and easy tariff. All that had been desired to be accomplished had been attained in that respect, as the imports and exports showed, both as regarded merchandise and vessels as well. The effect of the tariff had shown an increase in the way of shipping, both in regard to the outward and inward vessels, so that he considered the tariff had not turned, out so injurious as had been supposed. The tariff, though, had not been all that was desired; although it would be endeavored to bring it up to the mark of desire, and he had no doubt but that, after investigation, if any difficulties arose they would be endeavored to be remedied. The Government, however, was not prepared to put on a prohibitory duty, it being his opinion that the finances of the country would be then interfered with. Therefore, no such proposal as that a 15 per cent, or 20 per cent, tariff should be imposed could be entertained. Such a trap, as he reckoned it, could not be allowed, and he wonderedthat the protectionists could have fallen into it. All that was desirable was to have a tariff to a certain extent, but the stop required to be made somewhere, and it had been made now. In reference to the Land Act, he might observe that it had always been the intention of the Minister of Lands to deal honestly with the Land Act, but difficulties had arisen, and it was intended to have them disposed of as speedily as possible, and shortly after the meeting of Parliament. Regarding transferees under the 42nd clause, it was intended that they should have the same privileges as under the, 12th clause of the old act, so as to admit of selection and the obtaining of deeds by the parties interested. It had been said that the Government, had intended introducing a Quieting of Titles Bill, but there was no intention of: the sort. As regarded the criminal laws, he believed that some change was necessary.; As to that portion referring to crimes upon women and children, he thought that a more liberal application of the lash was necessary. They could safely, he thought, begin with the lash, no matter how they might finish.
As to larrikinism, he also thought that it might be met by the delinquents being dealt with summarily.
The whole question of the convict class was being investigated by a commission, and he might state that convicts would be required to work for what they ate, and that what they ate should he in conformity with their working. As to the postal service, the Government had been charged: to some extent with trying to make money out of the Panama line.
He might state that the Government had never made a shilling out of the service, but had rather lost considerably by it. In fact, the Government had charged less for the carriage of letters by that service than such carriage cost them, but owing to the delays which had occurred the route had been considered of very little value. He was of opinion that the Cape route was the best of the two, and would be afterwards improved on when the route became to be fully adopted. The run of the Queen of the Thames showed that some improvement in the way of ship building was likely to be adopted. It was better, he thought, for the colony to wait until further development of that service had taken place. He had no doubt the route would in time be accomplished in something like 45 days. In regard to the Licensing Bill, he might observe that had it been passed as introduced it would not have been so satisfactory as the measure that had become law. The matter was open to further legislation if deemed necessary. As regarded the borrowing powers of the colony for railway purposes, he imagined that the colony could go on with its system of paying out of its savings. A cheap system of railways might be introduced, so as to benefit the largest number of the population and meet the trunk lines at present constructed. As to the water-works, he might state that the Government had been deceived, but it was now intended to do the best with them that was now possible. In reference to the mining question, one which came more immediately under the notice of the minister of Mines, he might state that it would be dealt with in due course, and would, no doubt, obtain that attention it deserved. As to the privilege question which had been brought before the House, he might state that the opinion of the Privy Council was being obtained thereon. He might say, in conclusion, that the Government was influenced by the best intentions. Speaking for himself, he might say that he had done his duty as best he could, and he hoped the constituencies throughout the country, generally would endeavor to return the best men to represent their interests.
In answer to questions, Sir James M’Culloch stated that he was in favor of supporting a vote to the agricultural interest, and he had no doubt that the association now originated would be supported. He was opposed to the further borrowing of money for railway purposes beyond the amount set apart by the Land Act. As to the construction of roads; in the Gippsland direction, he thought that the road extending towards Gippsland should receive more attention than had hitherto been its lot.
The usual vote of confidence was then proposed.and carried without opposition, and the meeting separated.