Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904), Saturday 5 November 1859, page 2
THE NEW “VICTORIAN MINISTRY.
from the Argus.
The Administration which Mr. Nicholson has succeeded in forming will command, in a large measure, the favourable opinion of the public. Regard being had to the materials at Mr. Nicholson’s choice, and the peculiar difficulties of selection, the Cabinet is so composed as to contain the best elements – possible of a strong Government.
The field of selection was narrowed, at the last moment, through the inordinate self-conceit of Mr. Duffy, who, not content with the toleration extended to himself personally, desired to bring with him all the several joints of his tail. This gentleman, who has not yet purged himself of his sepoy sympathies, and is still unfitted with a new backbone, has been possessed with the idea that he is an essential element of any possible Government at this crisis; and that his two or three satellites, who constitute the whole Dully following, must necessarily be swallowed with their patron and chief. Mr. Nicholson having undertaken no divided responsibility, very properly refused to entertain Mr. Duffy’s extravagant proposals; and so the negotiation dropped, without any damage to the new Cabinet, and certainly with no great loss to the public. The petulance, vanity, and exaggerated self-esteem, which form elements so important in Mr. Duffy’s character, have gone far to neutralize whatever little talent he has been able to place at the public service; and, from the nature of the revelations in the quarrel with Mr. O’Shanassy, it is clear that no Ministry has any assurance of long life of which Mr. Duffy is a member.
The only other section of the late majority from which Mr. Nicholson was open to choose was the Convention, and the only one or two members of the Convention who were personally not ineligible for office hesitated to join a coalition Administration. But among the new gold-fields members who, while holding very
liberal views on the land question, are yet separated distinctly from the city Conventionalists in their aims and interests, it has been rightly judged by Mr. Nicholson that there lay some materials essential to a Government which should found its claim upon popular support on the breadth and liberality of its organization.
The individual merits of the members of the new Administration are, on the whole, such as will ensure general confidence in their joint character. The new Chief Secretary himself, though laying no claim to the possession of any talent approaching to the nature of genius, enjoys so fair a reputation as an honest and intelligent man of business, that he may be safely trusted with his grave responsibilities. He is eminently fitted to give us that interval of repose which the State requires, after twenty months of the O’Shanassy absolutism. And if Mr. Nicholson is inspired with humbler ambitions than his predecessor, he is, by consequence, the safer man and not the worse Minister. His political career, though brief and unmarked by any startling achievements, has been of such a character as ought to secure him the good will of all liberally-disposed citizens. As one of the champions of the ballot, Mr. Nicholson has made himself known beyond the bounds of the colony, and if he did not succeed in persuading Great Britain to follow our bold example, the failure must be attributed to the comparatively lower capacities of the people of England.
The choice of Mr. Dennistoun Wood as Attorney-General must be considered most fortunate for the country. Although comparatively a young man, there is no member of the House who has earned a higher name, both for probity and for talent. The acceptance of office by Mr. Wood is well known to involve a considerable pecuniary sacrifice to that gentleman—a sacrifice which may be taken as a fair evidence of zeal and earnestness in the cause of the people. No class of men are subject to such heavy penalties in undertaking public service as the members of the legal profession; for the law is a jealous mistress, and visits heavily even a temporary desertion.
The accession of Mr. Fellows and Mr. Adamson makes a Cabinet strong in law, and ensures legislative productiveness.
The new Treasurer, Mr. McCulloch, is essentially a safe man; and in that department perhaps it would be difficult to find his match. As the representative of one of our largest mercantile firms, McCulloch has earned for himself a distinguished position in the commercial world; and we may fairly rely upon his success in his private career as a guarantee
of his fitness for public office.
The appointment of Mr. J. C. King to the office of Public Works has been justly earned by a long and useful public career, commencing with the anti-transportation stage in our colonial growth. Mr. Vincent Pyke, as one of the oldest of the mining representatives, has been long before the public, and may bo expected to fill his responsible post with tolerable credit. Mr. Bailey is our element of “young blood,” who, if he will rid himself of a certain petty parish-vestry manner, promises to be a very useful public man. Mr. Service is perhaps the weakest and the least popular ot the new appointments, though apparently for no better reason than that he was very closely connected with the late Constitutional Association.
Comparing the present Ministers, man for man, with their predecessors, we must arrive at the satisfactory conclusion that we have gained greatly in personal character, and have not lost in capacity. Of Mr. Nicholson we are safe to say, at least, that he will open no private telegrams. Mr. Wood is an immense advance upon Mr. Chapman, and Mr. McCulloch upon Mr. Harker. It is impossible but that Mr. Bailey will be a better Postmaster than Mr. Evans. The offices of ” Lands and Survey” and “Public Works” will lose nothing in their present tenants; and Mr. Adamson shines by contrast with Mr. Ireland.
A grace of five weeks has been extended to the Ministry, to go through their elections and to settle a policy, and during that time they have a right to the forbearance of the public. The country demands a strong Government; and we shall not prejudice the present experiment by premature criticism. And until his policy is developed, we shall advance to Mr. Nicholson, on account, that free and fair support which he must hereafter take pains to deserve.