§ EARL GREY
presented Petitions of Inhabitants of the District of Clarence and Richmond Rivers for the Separation of the District of the Clarence and Richmond Rivers from the Colony of New South Wales, and for including the same in the Colony of Queensland; and of Inhabitants of Bridgewater, Portland, and Heywood, in the Western District of the Colony of Victoria, for Separation of Western Portion of Victoria from Victoria, and of the South Eastern District of South Australia from South Australia, and for the Union of these into One separate Colony. The noble Earl said, that in the Act of 1850, for the better Government of the Australian Colonies, power was reserved to the Crown to detach portions of the colony of New South Wales in order to form other colonies if necessary, and to alter the boundaries 1804 of the several Colonies from time to time. In the year 1859 that power was acted upon, and the colony of Queensland founded; but, instead of following the course contemplated when the Act was passed, different boundaries were chosen. The Petitioners in the first Petition, which was from the district of the Clarence and Richmond Rivers, complained that, in consequence of the boundary of the Colony of New South Wales being fixed at the 28th instead of the 30th parallel of south latitude, they had been separated from Queensland, the colony with which they were naturally connected, and remained attached to the colony of New South Wales, from which they were divided by a range of mountainous country. They were 500 miles from Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, from which they were also separated by this natural boundary, and only 100 miles from Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, and they stated that they had no material interests in common with New South Wales. They therefore contended that they ought to be separated from the former and attached to the latter colony. They complained, moreover, that they were unfairly dealt with in the matter of taxation, having been made liable in part for a public debt with which practically they had no concern; that they were not fairly dealt with in the appropriation of the revenue, not having a fair proportion of the advantage in proportion to the revenue they paid; besides which, they had no hope of good government until they were attached to Queensland, with which they were connected geographically and by inclination. Upon those grounds they prayed that such steps might be taken as might seem proper to annex them to Queensland. It appeared to him that the complaint of these petitioners was just, and that the district in question ought to belong to Queensland rather than to New South Wales. There were three other Petitions—from Portland, Bridgewater, and a third district in the western portion of the colony of Victoria. They complained of their distance from the seat of Government, and alleged that they were subjected to legislation unsuited to their circumstances. The same prayer proceeded from the districts forming the eastern portion of the colony of South Australia, who were circumstanced in regard to South Australia as were the other petitioners in regard to Victoria, and who therefore prayed that they might be formed into a distinct 1805 colony. They stated that they were together quite large enough for this purpose, and that they were larger than the colony of Port Phillip when it was separated from New South Wales. He was not so well acquainted with the merits of this Petition as of the other, but all these representations were well deserving of the attention of the Government and of Parliament.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, that the letters patent constituting the colony of Queensland were issued by his predecessor in the early part of 1859, and he could not explain the reasons which influenced him in adopting the line of division he had made. Some time after his acceptance of office he received an application, not from the colonists, but from their representative in this country, urging that the particular district referred to in the Petition should be added to Queensland; and another series of applications asking that it should be retained by New South Wales. To those applications he replied, that as the boundary lines had been laid down by letters patent, it was beyond his power to interfere; he said, however, that if they could come to any agreement between themselves as to any other line of boundary, he should be willing to adjust their differences. Since then he had had no communication on the subject, and he had hoped that they had acquiesced in the arrangement which had been made. With reference to the formation of a new colony from fragments of Victoria and South Australia, he could assure his noble Friend that applications for the formation of new colonies out of the existing Australian colonies came so frequently, that if it were possible to accomplish the wishes of all the people of New South Wales, Sydney and a very limited district around it would be the only surviving portion of the colony of New South Wales. The settlers in many districts averred that they would be better off if separated from the mother colony; and he considered that it would be exceedingly bad policy to multiply colonies in Australia to an indefinite extent, especially until certain districts were thoroughly populated. Of course, the expenses of new Governments would be large, and all the difficulties which existed, with reference to customs duties, between the different colonies would be greatly magnified. In short, his opinion was, that generally speaking, until a portion of a colony was completely populated, it would be very unadvisable to in- 1806 terfere. There were applications, no doubt, that must shortly be attended to. He had been recently appealed to, for instance, to form a new colony south of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The time had not yet arrived for such a step; but the progress of exploration and the vast influx of people into that pastoral district would justify, before long, the establishment of one, if not two, additional colonies—one at Victoria River, and perhaps another at Albert River. For the present, however, deprecating these constant applications for separation, he had decided on this provisional arrangement:—that the large district extending between the Gulf of Carpentaria and Port Essington, and including an area of 730,000 square miles, should be temporarily annexed, one portion to Queensland and another to South Australia. He thought it would be undesirable to sever the other districts alluded to by his noble Friend unless more valid reasons than any he had yet heard could be assigned.
§ Petitions to lie on the table.