HC Deb 23 July 1857 vol 147 cc280-2

having presented a petition upon the subject from the Legislative Council of New South Wales, signed by the President, said, he wished to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any decision has been come to by Her Majesty's Government on the subject of detaching from the colony of New South Wales any portion of the Northern Territories thereof, and forming the same into a separate colony; and if any such decision has been made, where the southern boundary of such new colony is to be drawn; and whether, in respect of any portions of such new colony as are situated between the 26th and 30th degrees of south latitude, Petitions from the Inhabitant Householders of the Territories so situated have been presented to Her Majesty as required by the statute 13 & 14 Vic., c. 59, s. 34, in order to enable Her Majesty to include such Territories in the new colony; whether any conditions have been imposed in order to prevent convicts being sent to such new colony; what provision has been made as to the form of the Government of such new colony; And whether any, and if any, what arrangement has been made as to the proportions of the public debt of the existing colony, to be borne by such new colony and New South Wales respectively after the proposed separation?


said, that the facts of the case were these. In passing the Constitutional Act on which the institutions of New South Wales were now founded the Legislature of that colony had provided for the possible separation of the northern portion of it from the southern, by giving to the Queen in Council the power to separate the district of Moreton Bay from the rest of the colony, and to draw such a boundary line as might be considered most desirable. He (Mr. Labouchere) having received strong and reiterated petitions from the inhabitants of the district of Moreton Bay to the effect that they desired that separation, had advised the Crown to make it. Considerable difficulty, however, arose in determining where the boundary line should be drawn, but his opinion was that that which ought to guide the decision was the desire of the colonists themselves, coupled with considerations of the accessibility to Moreton Bay and to Sydney respectively. He at first thought that it would be right to carry the boundary line very low down, southerly, so as to include the Clarence River district in Moreton Bay; but it appeared to him that the petitions from the inhabitants of the Clarence River district in favour of being regarded as part of the colony of new South Wales, so much outsweighed in force and numbers those which were in favour of being annexed to the Moreton Bay district, that he had written to the Governor of New South Wales, informing him that he should advise the Crown to draw the boundary line nearer to Moreton Bay than he had originally intended, so as to be between the 25th and 26th degree of south latitude—within about seventy miles of Moreton Bay—and to give the Clarence River district to New South Wales. With regard to the second question, respecting convicts, he could not state too explicitly that it was the fixed determination of the Government not to send a single convict to Moreton Bay, as they had no reason to suppose that the colonists would desire to receive them. Whatever wish there might have been for convict labour some time ago, it was his belief there was none now; and he should consider it to be a gross breach of faith towards the colonists of Sydney to allow convicts to be introduced into a contignous colony, from whence they might readily pass to Sydney. In answer to the next question as to what provision had been made with respect to the form of Government of the new colony, he had to state that he found in the Act which the authorities at Sydney had passed, that the Government should, as nearly as might be, resemble the constitution of Sydney, and by the advice of the Crown officers (there being no opposition to the scheme in the colony), it was intended to give to the new colony the ordinary constitution of a British Colony—of Governor, Council, and Assembly. With respect to the third question, relating to the public debt, he had to observe that the Governor of New South Wales had called his attention to that point, and he had requested the Governor to bring the subject before the Legislature of New South Wales, by whom the proper partition of the debt could be made; and the Order in Council separating the two Colonies would not be issued until satisfactory assurances should be received that that question was settled.