HC Deb 23 November 1888 vol 331 cc29-30

The Government of South Australia having expressed the wish that, as the letter addressed to them by the Colonial Office was communicated to the House, their answer should also be read, I will ask the House to allow me to read it—

"Sir W. C. F. Robinson

(South Australia) to

Lord Knutsford.

"(Received, Colonial Office, 21st of November, 1888.)

"Following telegram received from my Ministers:—

"Respectfully acknowledge the receipt from Governor of copy of telegram from Secretary of State for the Colonies relating to the appointment of Colonial Governors. In reply, Ministers desire respectfully to remark that the objections which are urged to course they have ventured to suggest appear to be untenable. Even if control over selection of Governor were conceded to Local Government, as it has been suggested that they desire, they contend this would not warrant a suspicion of impartiality of gentlemen appointed. An argument to the contrary carried to its logical conclusion would justify doubts as to integrity of highest judicial officer whenever dealing with question affecting interests of Government by which he was appointed; but, as a matter of fact, Ministers have no desire that Local Government should have power of controlling election Governor, or that any gentleman should be asked to undertake office subject to approval of Local Government. They only seek opportunity to state for favourable consideration of Imperial Government in such a manner as may be most convenient to Colonial Office any reasons which may occur to them why any contemplated appointment appears to be undesirable to them. If this opportunity is not to be afforded, there is, without doubt, possibility of objection being overlooked or not fully considered, which if noted or fully considered prior to appointment, would prevent it from being made. It would then become duty of Ministers to call attention to objection in question, and this would, without doubt, lead to much more undesirable position than if course Ministers have suggested were adopted. If, after full consideration of objection, the appointment were cancelled, it would involve no small annoyance to gentleman principally interested; and if, on the other hand, appointment were persisted in, it would be certainly much more reasonable to expect prejudice on part of Governor against Ministry raising objection than it would be to suspect bias on part of Governor in favour of Government for the simple reason that they could see no cause to protest against his appointment. Ministers most respectfully assure your Excellency that they have not slightest desire to encroach on Constitutional rights of Imperial Government with reference to Viceregal office; they are, however, convinced that probability of satisfactory appointment thus strengthening the bonds of union between Great Britain and Colony will be increased by course suggested. If South Australia were conceded privilege of stating objections to a proposed appointment, the power would be exercised with due regard to its importance, and no objection would be likely made. Furthermore, should there be difficulty arising from scarcity of information in Colony regarding fitness of gentleman suggested, it might be obviated by selection only men well-known reputation, and who might possibly be found among those who have exhibited an interest in Colonial affairs. The dignity and importance of office would, without doubt, justify such a choice. Indeed, if so desired by Secretary of State for Colonies, Ministers Would be possibly able to suggest for Imperial consideration names gentlemen whose appointment would be acceptable to Colony. Ministers are encouraged to respectfully venture this last suggestion in view of expression of Secretary of State of great satisfaction and assistance which he would derive in selection, on account of knowledge of views of Colony on subject. "PLAYFORD (Premier)."

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