Francis F. (Francis Fisher) Browne.

United Australia. Public opinion in England as expressed in the leading journals of the United Kingdom online

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C. A. Kofold










The Spectator 1

The St. James' Gazette 5, 125

Pall Mall Gazette 7

The Morning Post 9

The Globe 11,122

Manchester Examiner 12

The Daily News 13

The Star (London) 16

Edinburgh Evening Despatch 18

The Evening News (Glasgow) 18

The Times 20

The Standard 24

The Morning Advertiser 27

The Aberdeen Free Press 29

The Aberdeen Journal 32

The Birmingham Post 35

The Daily Chronicle (Huddersfield) 36

Hull Eastern Morning News ,38

East- Anglian Daily Times (Ipswich) 39

The Leeds Yorkshire Post 40

The Liverpool Courier 42

The Manchester Courier 44

The Newcastle Journal 48

The Plymouth Western Morning

News.., 50

Shields Daily News 51

The British Australasian 53

Civil Service Gazette. . , 56

Bradford Telegraph 57

Dumfries Standard , . . 59

The Cornish Telegraph 61

Bullionist 65

Statist 66

Ayr Advertiser ..... 67


Richmond Herald 69

The Overland Mail 69

Edinburgh Weekly Scotsman 73

Falmouth and Penryn Times 73

Gloucester Journal 77

Hampshire Telegraph 79

Lincoln Gazette 80

Newcastle Leader 82

The Salisbury and Winchester

Journal 84

Exeter Gazette 86

Army and Navy Gazette 88

United Service Gazette 89, 94

Vanity Fair 96

Weekly Budget 96

Weekly Times 96

The West Briton (Truro) 99

The British Australasian 100

Glasgow Mail 102

The Scotsman 104

Hull Daily Mail 108

The Capitalist 109

Altrincham Guardian Ill

Brighton (Sussex ) Daily News 113

Birmingham Post 114

Glasgow Mail 119

Leeds Mercury 121

Evening News 125

Birmingham Gazette 127

Glasgow Herald , 130

The Eastern Morning News 132

Advertiser ... 134

Aberdeen Free Press ... , 135






The Times of November 4th published the despatch of Sir
Henry Parkes of October 3Oth, addressed to Mr. Gillies, and
within sixteen days from that publication nearly every
influential journal in the United Kingdom joined in the
debate on Australian Federation. Among the first, The
Times, November 5th, says: "No better method of testing
the strength of the desire for union could be devised than the
summoning of such a National Convention as Sir Henry
Parkes suggests." And the article concludes: " Sir Henry
Parkes is a capable statesman, and his judgment is entitled
to all respect when he pronounces the time to be ripe and
the method to be feasible. ' If that is so, the difficulties will
gradually disappear, and the Federation of the Australian
Colonies will before long be accomplished." Later in the
discussion, November i6th, a leading provincial paper says:
" Criticism is the fire through which all new proposals of
importance should pass, and if they cannot pass the ordeal
they are better dropped. It must be confessed that the
proposals of Sir Henry Parkes have come well, out of the
criticism that has greeted them."

In the following pages the principal articles of the English
press are reproduced, with the name of the journal and date
of publication. It will be seen that not only the London
daily papers, but the great provincial journals, from South-
ampton to Aberdeen, and most of the economic and official
publications, discussed the great Australian question.


For convenience of reference the despatch of Sir Henry
Parkes of October 3Oth is here reprinted :

Colonial Secretary's Office,
Sir, Sydney, 30 October, 1889.

Your telegram, explanatory of your views in favour of bringing the
machinery of the Federal Council into operation in giving effect to the
recommendations of General Edwards for the federalization of Australian
troops, reached me last week in Brisbane. Being extremely anxious to meet
your wishes, I lost no time in re-examining the provisions of the Federal
Council Act ; and I regret that I cannot concur in your view, that the
Council possesses the requisite power to constitute, direct, and control an
united Australian army. The subsection of clause 15, to which you specially
referred me, appears to supply evidence to the contrary. The two words
" general defences " are included in a long list of secondary matters, such
as "uniformity of weights and measures" and the " status of corporations
and joint stock companies," and it would be a very strained interpretation
that could give to those two words so used a definition of legal authority to
deal with a matter second to none other in the exercise of National power.
It is not for me to say what is the precise meaning of the words on which
you rely ; but it is contended that they cannot be construed to mean the
creation, direction, mobilisation, and executive control of a great army for
the defence of the whole of Australia.

For more than twenty years I have had the question of Australian federa-
tion almost constantly before me ; and I cannot be accused of indifference
to it at any time, merely because I had become convinced from earlier
examination, while others were adopting the scheme of the present Federal
Council at a later period, that no such body would ever answer the great
objects of Federal Government. Leaving the provisions of the Act as to
the legislative capacity of the Council, we are at once precipitated upon an
impassable barrier, in the fact that there does not exist in it or behind it
any form of executive power. Supposing, for example, that the Federal
Council's recommendations or enactments, for the movement of Australian
soldiers could be accepted, there could not be found anywhere a corres-
ponding executive authority to give effect to them.

The vitally important recommendation made by General Edwards is one,
in any light from which it can be viewed, of national magnitude and
significance. The vast sums annually expended by the Continental Colonies
for defence works and services would be of greatly enhanced value in time


of public danger, if the scattered and unconnected forces locally maintained
could be brought under one command, and, whenever advisable, directed to
one field of operations. I am satisfied that this cannot be done by any
existing machinery. The Executive Governments of the several Colonies
could not act in combination for any such purpose, nor could they so act
independently of each other. The Federal Council has no executive power
to act at all. The Imperial Parliament, on the application of the Colonies,
could, no doubt, pass an Act to constitute the Federal Army under one
command, and to authorize its operations in any part of Australia ; but the
Colonies could never consent to the Imperial Executive interfering in the
direction of its movements. Hence, then, this first great Federal question,
when looked at fairly, brings us, in spite of preferences or prejudices, face
to face with the imperative necessity for a Federal Government. And why
should we turn aside from what is inevitable in the nature of our onward
progress ? It must come, a year or two later possibly, but in any case soon.

I hope I need not assure you that this Government is anxious to work in
harmony with the Governments of the sister Colonies in the matter under
consideration, and is desirous of avoiding subordinate questions coloured by
party feeling or collateral issues. It is a question to be put to the mind and
heart of Australia, in view of the destiny of Australia, and on .which it is
hoped all sections of the collective population will unite without regard to
narrower considerations. Believing that the time is ripe for consolidating
the Australias into one, this Government respectfully invites you to join in
taking the first great step, namely, to appoint representatives of Victoria to
a National Convention for the purpose of devising and reporting upon an
adequate scheme of Federal Government. With much deference to the
views of the other Colonies, it is suggested that, in order to avoid any sense
of inequality in debate or any party complexion, the number from each
Colony should be the same, and should be equally chosen from both sides
in political life ; and that, in the case of each Colony, the representatives
should be elected by Parliament and receive commissions from the Governor
in Council. It is further suggested that six members from each Colony
would be a convenient number, both in regard to combining a fair represen-
tation of the two Houses, and at the same time not making the Convention
too unwieldy. In each case four members might be taken from the
Assembly, two from each side ; and two members from the Council, one
from each side. In the case of Western Australia, where only one House
exists, possibly only four members might be elected. If New Zealand
joined, the Convention would as a result consist of forty members.


The scheme of Federal Government, it is assumed, would necessarily
follow close upon the type of the Dominion Government of Canada. It
would provide for the appointment of a Governor-General, for the creation
of an Australian Privy Council, and a Parliament consisting of a Senate and
a Blouse of Commons. In the work of the Convention, no doubt, the rich
stores of political knowledge which were collected by the framers of the
Constitution of the United States would be largely resorted to, as well as
the vast accumulation of learning on cognate subjects since that time.

Although a great and pressing military question has brought to the
surface the design of a Federal Government at the present juncture, the
work of a national character which such a Government could, in the interest
of all the Colonies, most beneficially and effectively undertake, would
include the noblest objects of peaceful and orderly progress ; and every
year the field of its beneficent operations would be rapidly expanding. I
devoutly hope that you will be able to take the view which I have briefly
explained, of the necessity now pressing upon these Colonies to rise to a
higher level of national life, which would give them a larger space before
the eyes of the world, and in a hundred ways promote their united power
and prosperity.

Permit me, in conclusion, to say that you place much too high an estimate
on my individual influence, if you suppose that the accession of New South
Wales to the Federal Council rests with me. In my judgment, there is no
person and no party here that could persuade Parliament to sanction the
representation of this Colony in the present Federal Council.

I have, &c.,

The Honorable Duncan Gillies, M.P., Victoria.


The Spectator

November 2nd, 1889.

THE project of consolidating the Australian continent into one powerful
state has taken a great step forward. Most of the colonies have been
willing to co-operate in the work, though only Victoria has been zealous ;
but New South Wales has hung back, and has even declined to enter the
Federal Council with limited powers which since 1886 has harmonised
many intercolonial disputes upon the jurisdiction of courts of law.
Moved, however, by some cause as yet unknown, but, it is to be presumed,
by a recognition of the danger to which the colony would be exposed in
the event of a great war, the Premier of New South Wales, Sir Henry
Parkes, stated publicly on Thursday week that the time had arrived
when a Parliament and an Executive must be created for all Australia,
to deal with international questions ; and that a convention from all the
colonies should be assembled to devise a plan for federation. As that is
the opinion of the other colonies also, New Zealand excepted, all
resistance has apparently died away, and we may expect within two
or three years to see a definite project for founding the new nation
forwarded to the Colonial Office for the assent of the Crown. There
are, of course, many visible difficulties and sources of delay ; but the
most important of them will, we believe, disappear, not so much from
argument as under the pressure of unrelenting facts. The first object is
to place the colonies in a position to defend themselves without assist-
ance from the mother country ; and the attempt to do that will involve
the formation of a Government, with considerable powers of legislation,
a separate revenue, and a strong, or at least an undivided, Executive.
If there is to be a common army, however popularly organised, and a
common fleet, however small, and fortresses for the defence of the great
harbours, there must be a chief in military command, yet responsible to


The Spectator continued.

the civil power ; there must be a central representative body to co-operate
with that civil power, and there must be a National as distinguished
from a Colonial revenue, levied at the discretion of the central power,
and without the intervention of provincial authorities. Those data
granted, we may trust to the national instinct which will speedily be
awakened to make the general Government sufficiently effective. The
colonies will, of course, be jealous of their independence ; they will, of
course, bicker as to methods of levying the taxes of the Dominion and
those of each colony ; and they may be fretful for a time about the
expense which any scheme of federation must involve ; but if the
project is accepted at all, the result is certain. The Convention
will soon discover that the Australian Legislature cannot work with
less powers than those of Congress ; it will be unable to discover a
common source of sufficient revenue except the Customs duties ; and it is
sure to leave the Executive sufficiently enfranchised, even if it does not
leave much power to the Viceroy. Our only doubt is whether it will
follow the example of the American Union, and reserve to the separate
provinces all powers not explicitly transferred to the Dominion; or
whether it will adopt the wiser precedent of Canada, and make the
central authority the Inheritor-General of all the authority not assigned
in terms to its constituent divisions. The whole question of nationality
ultimately hinges upon that, and upon that we should hope the American
Civil War had taught the world a sufficient lesson. There should, too,
be a provision for revising the Constitution under some process less
cumbrous and less liable to be defeated by sectional jealousy than the
one adopted in America, and a widely different scheme for the govern-
ment of territories not yet admitted within the Dominion. Canada did
not need that ; but Australia occupies a different geographical position.
Like the American Union, she will be practically isolated so far as the
fear of invasion is concerned ; but she is an island seated in an ocean
studded with rich islands which offer themselves to the first European
captor. Her people, too, have been bred under influences widely different
from those which made the Americans, and have shown already a desire
to be supreme in the Pacific, which cannot be gratified unless her Govern-
ment possesses means of ruling dependencies not admitted to political
equality. New Guinea alone is a kingdom in area, and New Guinea
belongs to Australia by a right almost as strong as that which binds the
Isle of Man to Great Britain.


The Spectator continued.

We confess we envy the task of the representatives to be assembled in
the Convention ; it is so infinitely superior to that of Members of Parlia-
ment. They will all be " plain men," little known outside their own
colonies, as, indeed, were the men who revised the American Constitu-
tion ; but they will, if they succeed, and above all if they agree, have
laid the foundations of a great nation, with a history which, as the cen-
turies advance, may be more interesting than that of the United States,
whose annals are almost exclusively internal. The great Southern State
will be an island, and, like every other island, cannot avoid incessant
relations with every other Power in the world. Water divides, but it
also unites, for it furnishes a perpetually open road. Australia as a
Republic cannot help being a maritime Power, and, from the days of
Phoenicia downwards, there never was a maritime Power yet without a
foreign policy. She is too liable to attack, too eager for commerce, too
clearly compelled to protect settlements and subjects at a distance from
her own shores. It is a fleet Australia will need rather than a militia,
more especially if she commits the imprudence of including New Zealand
a separate world, twelve hundred miles off within her own dominion,
and the possessors of fleets are never contented with the less interesting
annals of mere landsmen. Fleets imply adventure, though their owner
is but a city on the wrong side of the Mediterranean. The Australian
Colonies have already questions which, were they independent, would be
serious questions, with France and China and Holland, and they bear a
relation towards Further Asia not borne by any European Power. They
will not be organised into a State for ten years before they will be
trading, settling, and governing in the only splendid possession which
Europe has left for the next conquering Power, the great necklace of
rich, tropical islands, a necklace with two rows, which stretches down
from Japan to a point almost within sight of the Australian coast.
Australia is the natural heir of the Eastern Archipelago, an Empire in
itself, and will not be long a State before, whatever Europe may think
or feel, she will have claimed her heritage. Europe will be perfectly
powerless, and, in all probability, occupied as she will be with other
questions, profoundly indifferent.

The federation of Australia, great as may be the power thus founded,
will be witnessed here without the smallest jealousy. Nobody desires
to hamper Australia, even if she expands very rapidly. There is not a
trace of that contempt for Australians which our ancestors are said to


The Spectator continued.

have felfc for the American Colonists, and none of the lingering jealousy
with which even the English regard all other successful Powers. Some
quality in the Australians not easily to be denned, though we should call
it cheeriness, attracts the English at home, and, but for the length of the
voyage, they would fill up the plains of the Southern Continent at a rate
which would hardly delight the workmen of Melbourne or Sydney. All
men here are willing that Australia should remain a Dependency ; but if
she declared her wish to rise into the position of an independent ally,
there would be, amidst some sorrow at the disappearance of a dream, but
little irritation. There are men among us, indeed, who think that, so
far from dreading Australian Federation, we should welcome it as the
first great step towards Imperial Federation. We are, we regret to say,
wholly unable to enter into that dream. We cannot even imagine Aus-
tralia, with her unimpeded career before her in the South, taking up part
of our burden in the North, helping to guarantee us against European
attacks, maintaining our empire in Asia, or submitting to the influence of
our democratic Parliament. No new people accepts that position except
for the gravest reasons, and why should Australia accept it ? What have
we to give in return for such a sacrifice except a maritime protection
which, in the very act of declaring her independence, she would assert
that she did not need 1 The Dominion may, indeed, be content to remain
for many years as a Federal Republic within the empire, as the Canadian
Dominion has done ; but it will be on condition that the empire defends
her without interfering in her internal government, or levying within her
coasts any taxation. The dream of the union of countries separated by
twelve thousand miles of sea is a dream merely, and would be one even if
England were willing that her policy should be partly directed from
Ottawa or Melbourne. It is as a powerful colony, soon to become a
powerful State, that England will welcome the Australian Dominion, all
the more willingly perhaps that Australia cannot, like Canada, merge
herself in a state already almost as strong as Europe in combination.
Australia must always remain alone, sufficient or insufficient to herself
a fact which will, we hope, affect her organisation, as it most assuredly
will alfect the political temper of her people.


The St. James' Gazette
November 4M, 1889.

THE important despatch just issued by Sir Henry Parkes, the New South
Wales Premier, bears out what we said the other day in commenting on
a previous statement made by the same statesman. Sir Henry, who is
the most influential politician in New South Wales, or, indeed, in
Australasia, now formally and distinctly records his belief in Australian
Federalism. The immediate occasion is the report made by General
Edwards, the military commandant at Hong Kong, 011 the subject of the
Australian defensive system. This officer has advised, among other
things, the federation of the several Australian contingents and the
appointment of a single commanding officer for the whole body ; the
adoption of a uniform system of organisation and armament ; the estab-
lishment of a common military college for all the colonies ; and the
introduction for strategical purposes of a uniform railway gauge. Now,
it is clear that these objects can only be carried out by a common central
authority of some kind, and at present the only central authority which
exists is the so-called Australian Federal Council, in which New South
Wales has steadily refused to be represented. " Now," says Sir Henry
Parkes, "why not throw overboard this sham council, which has no real
executive power, which cannot command our troops, which cannot control
a national system of defence, which is only, in fact, a sort of deliberative
congress : why not get rid of this altogether and consider the question of
a real federation of the colonies'?" The question of defence, when looked
at fairly, brings us, in spite of prejudices or preferences, face to face with
the necessity for federal government; and "why," he continues, "should
we turn aside from what is inevitable in the nature of our onward
progress 1 It must come, a year or two later possibly, but in any case
soon." The New South Wales Premier goes on to suggest that a formal
intercolonial convention, consisting of six members from each colony,
should be assembled in order to consider a scheme of Federal Government
more or less on the Canadian type. In fact, if ail succeeds as Sir Henry
Parkes hopes, before long there will be another great dominion under the
British Crown the Dominion of Australia, not much inferior in resources
and population to the Dominion of Canada.

That the movement is a healthy one is, on the whole, clear enough.
If there is to be an Australian people instead of merely a collection o
small provinces, there must be a common central Government for common
purposes. It is, perhaps, not quite so clear why the system of union


The St. James' Gazette continued.

should be federal. Federalism is very much in favour just now ; but it
is nowhere a complete success, and in one or two places it has proved
uncommonly like a failure. The excuse for adopting it in the case of a
number of distinct States like those which constituted the original
American Union, or a number of districts, separated by racial and religious
differences, as was the case in Canada, is sufficiently valid ; but where
you have a population practically homogeneous, inhabiting regions not
divided from one another by very strongly marked natural or physical
peculiarities, it might at least be argued that there is no particular
occasion to stereotype the somewhat cumbrous and awkward federal
arrangement. An autocratic reformer with a free hand might perhaps
decide that the best constitution for Australia would be a single central
Government and central Parliament, with county councils for each colony.
But as local vanity and local patriotism count for a good deal, it is not
to be supposed that any one of the colonies would consent to deprive
itself of its legislature, its executive, its government, its ministry, and all
the other paraphernalia of statehood. At any rate, Australian union,
whether it comes by federation or by some other means, is a consumma-
tion which Englishmen and English politicians need not regard with
anything but pleasure. It is true that each successive step towards the

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Online LibraryFrancis F. (Francis Fisher) BrowneUnited Australia. Public opinion in England as expressed in the leading journals of the United Kingdom → online text (page 1 of 16)