Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954)Saturday 1 February 1868
On page 8
“THE CATHOLIC VOTE.”
THE McCulloch Government, during the four or five years
of its existence, has received a large and generous support
from Catholics. Of the small number of members of Parliament
belonging to that persuasion, more than half usually voted with the Administration. In many electoral districts the bulk of the Catholic electors sustained Ministers or
Ministerial candidates. Mr. Verdon would have been ejected
from Williamstown at the last general election but for Catholic
support. So would Mr. Higinbotham from Brighton. So, perhaps, would Mr. Sullivan from Mandurang, So certainly would a third of the Ministerial host. This connexion continued for years notwithstanding the occult relations known to exist between
MR McCulloch and the Orangemen. It continued down to
the Education Bill, introduced by Mr. Higinbotham, and adopted and sustained by Mr. McCulloch; a measure which proposed to determine the character and amount of religious instruction to be given in public schools, by a vote of the ratepayers;—an impudent device for making the teachers and the teaching in this mixed community exclusively Protestant.
At the elections now in progress Catholics are supposed to have voted generally against the Government candidates .
Among other reasons, to protect themselves against a renewal
of the Higinbotham Bill. Forthwith the Government organ, in a series of articles written by a person taken into the bosom of McCulloch, but held in deserved contempt by the rest of the community, raises the cry of a ” Catholic Vote.”
That the Catholics have protected themselves against the renewal of an insolent and truculent aggression amounts, it
seems, to an unpardonable conspiracy.
When the votes of Catholics kept Ministers in their seats, they were eminently proper and laudable votes. When they sent in Mr. Casey and Mr. Byrne, to support the Government, and Mr. Farrell to become its cakes-de-chambre, they were permissable and even praiseworthy; but when they are
given against the hats and boots and other cast clothes of the
McCulloch Government, they constitute nothing short of a
We look upon this clamour with too much contempt to argue with it. It is needless to say that four-fifths of the Scotchmen in any given electoral district, trooped to the poll to support McCulloch and Grant. That the Wesleyans as a
rule followed after their chosen leaders. That North of Ireland men have gone with the Government in about the same proportion that South of Ireland men have gone against the Government; it is needless to say this, for in them it is no doubt proper and allowable; not combination and conspiracy
by any means, but the legitimate exercise of their rights as freemen. Only Catholics must not presume to follow their example; their rights consist in the privilege of voting
for their enemies ox not voting at all.
We will not, we repeat, condescend to argue with this new development of McCullochism; but we put it to the Catholic
gentlemen who have hitherto supported the present Government, whether they are ready to mount this orange cockade and follow the tap of the “Prussian Drum.” They are specially and personally insulted by this attempt to raise the No Popery cry in Victoria. The whole of them without exception resisted the Education Bill last session, and the Government dropped it like a burning coal; they owe it to their
own honor, to their respect for their constituents and fellow countrymen, to offer the same united resistance to this base
and brutal slander on their class; and if they do, the same
consequences will assuredly follow. One of them, Mr. Farrell, who has become the paid agent of the Government, is probably past hope of repentance, and we commend him for his fitting reward to the electors of Castlemaine and its
associated towns. But to the others we look for a prompt defence of themselves and their class.
To Protestant gentlemen, who have received the cordial support of their Catholic neighbours, we appeal with equal confidence, whether they will permit an Administration who have never scrupled to have reoourse to any measure, however shameless, that could prolong for a little their
tenure of Office, to evoke a spirit which, if it became rampant,
would make scenes like the late brutalities at the Protestant Hall common amongst us. To them we fearlessly put it, whether Catholic electors have done anything
whatever liable to the smallest blame. They have given effect to their opinions by their votes, which it was their right and their duty to do. But Mr. Johnston in West
Bourke, Mr. A’Beckett in Mornington, Mr. Montgomery
in Grenville, and the bulk and body of the Opposition candidates in the first batch, whatever their country or creed,
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received as warm a support from them as their own countrymen. Their real and only offence is that they have given new weight and force to the Opposition by
withdrawing all support from the Government.
It is a fact of terrible significance, however, we are told, that the four Catholics already elected are respectively at the head of the poll. Wonderful occurrence, truly—that
Mr. O’Grady should be placed above the most disgusting
and truculent demagogue in Parliament, who is detested
on both sides of the House and outside of it equally; or Mr. Lalor above Mr. Stutt of the Lions, and Mr. Cunningham, the patron of the Prince of Darkness, or Mr. McDonnell above Mr. Bayles, who has never till now made up his mind which side he would take in politics; or Mr. Duffy above the Old Hat, or Ministerial Aunt Sally. These
gentlemen took the places they were plainly entitled to take under the circumstances, whether they were Catholic or Protestant, Jew or Gentile :—and in that spirit their
triumph must have come, for in South Bourke or South Grant the Catholics are a mere handful, and in Dalhousie all the Catholics on the Roll do not, we believe, remotely approach the number of electors who supported Mr. Duffy.
But they are aiming for political power, and nothing short of Catholic supremacy, Mr. Vale foresees, will satisfy them. Marvellous fellows they must be, if they accomplish their malevolent designs. Out of the seventy-eight members of the Assembly, they never had eight, and they are
not likely to have that number at present. Last session the seven Catholics furnished four supporters to the Government,
and only three to the Opposition; but supposing them united like one man, the other seventy-one, with the aid of so faithful a watchman as Mr. M’Culloch, will be able, we may hope, by constant vigilance, to prevent the seven from completely swamping and out-voting them.
There are topics in which the Irish have a special interest, just as the diggers have in mining legislation and the squatters in land legislation. We have indicated in another article what these questions are, and we are persuaded they would support no man hostile to these interests, whatev mer his creed or country. But, apart from this, they were
specially anxious, we have no doubt, for the success of two
or three of the candidates in whom they had greatest confidence.
Is this an offence ? Were Scotchmen altogether
indifferent to the chances of Mr. M’Culloch ? Do democrats
take no interest in the fate of Mr. Higinbotham at Brighton? Why are both Mr. Levi and Mr. Cohen candidates for the one constituency in Victoria in which the Jews are numerous? Because within reasonable limits it is a healthy, natural, and commendable feeling that classes of the community should seek through representative men to give the most complete effect to their opinions. In this sense there is a Scotch vote, a Jew vote, a Democratic vote, and a Wesleyan vote; and in this sense, and in this sense only, is there a Catholic vote.