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The Australian Colonies

Volume 110: debated on Monday 22 April 1850

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wished to put a question to his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, which he was induced to ask on account of the incompleteness of the information before the House with reference to the opinions of the people of Australia on the subject of the change in their constitution. Their Lordships might see, from the Votes of the other House of Parliament, that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Ministers to propose a Bill to carry such a change into effect, and there were also certain documents relating to this interesting question, which were already before the House. He could not help thinking, however, that the evidence in relation to the real feeling of the colonists was incomplete, and he therefore begged to ask his noble Friend whether any further despatches had been received from New South Wales and Western Australia on the subject of the proposed change of the constitution of those provinces; and whether it was the intention of the Government to recommend any Bill for forming a new constitution for those provinces without the production of further information on the subject?

replied, that when the Bill came up to their Lordships' House, he would state to them the grounds on which he thought they would be justified in proceeding with it. At present he would only say that no information as to New South Wales or Western Australia had reached Her Majesty's Government which was not already before the House; but from Port Phillip he had received a copy of resolutions agreed to at an important public meeting, which had been forwarded to the Governor, but which had not yet reached him (Earl Grey) through that channel. In these resolutions the colonists expressed their regret at the delay occasioned by the loss of the measure of last year, which was similar to the Bill of the present Session. He had only to remark further, that with regard to New South Wales, the measure did not propose any change of constitution, the only question being whether the colony should not be divided into two.

observed, that the Bill now proposed to be introduced was not the same as that of last Session; there was now a proposition for establishing a federal government, which was entirely new.

thought the resolutions to which the noble Earl had alluded expressed regret that the separation of Port Phillip from New South Wales was not effected last year; but at the same time the colonists expressed satisfaction at the course pursued by those of their Lordships who objected to the passing of the whole measure without a sufficient expression of feeling by the people of both colonies. It was stated by more than one of their Lordships, that if the Government would consent to separate that portion of the Bill which separated Port Phillip from the rest of New South Wales, there would be no difficulty in passing it.

was quite aware of the fact which the noble Lord had stated; but the noble Lord was no doubt also aware that there were certain practical difficulties in separating the two parts of the Bill which had been alluded to. The resolutions to which he had referred were passed in the town of Melbourne, and expressed regret that the Bill had not been proceeded with last year.

Subject at an end.