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1890 Australasian Federation Conference

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The Public were admitted to the Conference Chamber at a quarter to Noon, the PRESIDENT (Mr. D. GILLIES) being in the Chair.


Sir JOHN HALL moved the adoption of the following address:-



" We, Your Majesty's loyal and dutiful subjects, the Members Of the Conference assembled in Melbourne to consider the question of creating for Australasia one Federal Government, and representing the Australasian Colonies, desire to approach Your Most Gracious Majesty with renewed expressions of our devoted attachment to Your Majesty's Throne and Person.

" On behalf of Your Majesty's subjects throughout Australasia, we beg to express the fervent hope that Your Majesty's life may be long spared to reign over a prosperous and happy people.

" We most respectfully inform Your Majesty, that, after mature deliberation, we have unanimously agreed to the following resolutions:-

" 1. That, in the opinion of this Conference, the best interests and the present and future prosperity of the Australian Colonies will be promoted by an early union under the Crown, and, while fully recognising the valuable services of the Members of the Convention of 1883 in founding the Federal Council, it declares its opinion that the seven years which have since elapsed have developed the national life of Australia in population, in wealth, in the discovery of resources, and in self-governing capacity, to an extent which justifies the higher act, at all times contemplated, of the union of these Colonies, under one Legislative and Executive Government, on principles just to the several Colonies.

" 2. That to the union of the Australian Colonies contemplated by the foregoing resolution, the remoter Australasian Colonies shall be entitled to admission at such times and on such conditions as may be hereafter agreed upon.

“3. That the members of the Conference should take such steps as may be necessary to induce the Legislatures of their respective Colonies to appoint, during the present year, delegates to a National Australasian Convention, empowered to consider and report upon au adequate scheme for a Federal Constitution.

“4. That the Convention should consist of not more than seven members from each of the self-governing Colonies, and not more than four members from each of the Crown Colonies."

He said-Mr. President, I have great honour in moving that this respectful address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen, assuring Her Majesty of the devoted loyalty of her subjects in Australasia, as

represented at this Conference, and respectfully conveying to Her Majesty the result of our deliberations. I think we may like it as a happy augury for the success of our great undertaking, that it has been held at a time which afforded an opportunity to Her Majesty to express to the Imperial Parliament her deep interest in the work in which we are engaged. The words used by Her Majesty in opening the Imperial Parliament were, no doubt, words chosen by Her Majesty's Ministers, but honorable gentlemen who know, not only the deep and sincere interest which Her Majesty takes in the welfare of all her subjects, and which I may say has been the strength and glory of the Throne in our day, and who also know the special interest which Her Majesty has always manifested in the welfare and prosperity of Her Colonial dominions, will not doubt that it will afford Her Majesty much gratification to receive the resolutions at which we have arrived, and that anything which it is in Her power to do to further this great undertaking, and to secure the establishment of a great Australian or even Australasian Nation under the Crown of Great Britain, will be done. With these few words I beg to move that the address to Her Majesty, which I have placed in the President's hands, be now adopted by this Conference.

Dr. COCKBURN.-Sir, I beg to second the adoption of this address of loyalty to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, which has been so ably moved by Sir John Hall. I think that our fervid expressions of loyalty cannot come at a better time from any body of men than from this Conference, which has assembled to debate the most momentous question of the day, as far as Australasia is concerned. And the expressions of loyalty to which Sir John Hall has given utterance, which are placed [start page 112] on record by this address, will go further than anything else possibly can go to remove all misapprehension as to the views of members of this Conference, and the Parliaments and people they represent, in advocating the union of the Australasian Colonies. It is not to be feared that the union of the Australasian Colonies will in any way remove any of those jewels which at present adorn the Imperial Crown, but we hope that by that union a Jewel of unprecedented lustre will be added to the traditions of the Crown of the British Empire.

The motion was agreed to, arid the address was unanimously adopted.

Sir JOHN HALL moved-

"That the President do sign the foregoing address on behalf of the Conference, and present the same to His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, with a respectful request that he will be pleased to transmit such address to Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, for presentation to Her Most Gracious Majesty."

The motion was seconded by Dr. COCKBURN, and agreed to.



"That the President forward copies of the Report of the Proceedings and Debates of the Conference to His Excellency the Governor of Victoria for transmission to the Right Honorable the Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies."

The motion was seconded by Mr. DEAKIN, and agreed to.

Mr. DEAKIN moved-

"That the President forward copies of the Report of the Proceedings and Debates of the Conference to the representatives of the colonies at this Conference, for presentation to their respective Parliaments, and for general distribution."

The motion was seconded by Mr. PLAYFORD, and agreed to.

It was further directed by the Conference that the Official Record of its Proceedings should be signed by the PRESIDENT and SECRETARY to the Conference; and also that the communications addressed to the Conference from various persons and public bodies should, inasmuch as the Conference could not deal with them, be returned by the SECRETARY to the senders.


Mr. CLARK moved-

"That the Premier of Victoria be requested to act as Convener of the National Australasian Convention of Delegates to be appointed by the several Legislatures of the Australasian Colonies, and to arrange, upon consultation with the Premiers of the other colonies, the time and place of the meeting of the Convention."

The motion was seconded by Mr. PLAYFORD, and agreed to.



"That the thanks of the Conference be given to the Honorable Duncan Gillies for the services rendered by him as President of the Conference."

He said-I am quite sure that we are all prepared to testify to the courtesy, the dignity, and the efficiency with which you, Mr. President, have filled the Chair. I do not think I need say anything to support the motion which I have been asked to move beyond the few Words I have uttered.

Mr. MACROSSAN seconded the motion.

The PRESIDENT.-Before I submit the motion, I may be permitted to say that very few things could give me greater pleasure. I do not refer to presiding at this Conference, or to sitting in the Chair, because I confess that the position of sitting in the Chair, and occupying the position of President or Chairman, does not afford me much personal pleasure. My position elsewhere have not been such as to afford me that amount of comfort in occupying the Chair which I probably would have felt if I had been sitting simply as a member of the Conference. Nevertheless, I think it was my duty to accept the position in the first instance, as it was offered to me so graciously. What has given me special pleasure has been the result of the Conference, and though I admitted yesterday that when it was first suggested I did not feel such great confidence as I knew other gentlemen felt in the probable [start page 113] prospects, it has nevertheless given me all the more gratification that the deliberations of the Conference have been more successful than I originally contemplated. I can only say that if we can get anything like a similar unanimity elsewhere, when the time of the real struggle comes, nothing will afford my colleague and myself more satisfaction than that great result. Personally, I have to thank honorable members for their great consideration whilst I have been in the Chair, and I have only to say that the duties of the President, under the circumstances, have been extremely light, and the work performed has been exceedingly pleasant.

The motion was agreed to.

Dr. COCKBURN moved- "That the thanks of the Conference be given to Mr. George Henry Jenkins for the services rendered by him as Secretary to the Conference."

He said:-I think it is the desire of every member of the Conference, before parting, to place on record their appreciation of the manner in which the Secretary's duties have been fulfilled. Mr. Jenkins not only enjoys the confidence of every member of the Legislature with which he has been so long associated, but he also possesses what I may say is an Australasian reputation as a constitutional authority. I am sure I am only expressing the views of the members of the Conference when I say that his assistance to us has been of a marked character, and that, as individuals, we have reason to thank him for the way in which he has looked after our comfort.

Sir J. LEE STEERE.-I have very much pleasure in seconding the vote of thanks to Mr. Jenkins, as Secretary of this Conference. I have known Mr. Jenkins now for some few years, and I think I have gathered that his great characteristic is loyalty and devotion to Parliamentary government, and respect and esteem towards those gentlemen who occupy positions-as I do- as Speakers or Presidents of the different Legislatures of these colonies. Although some disparaging remarks were made yesterday with reference to the body over which I have the honour to preside, I think its principal defect is one which will everyday grow less and less. I gathered from the observations made yesterday that its principal defect was that it was in its early youth-that it was a body elected by a small population, insignificant in itself, and presided over by a gentleman almost as insignificant. These are defects which every day will cure. The youth which now exists, will, we expect, very shortly be manhood; and I hope it will then take its place among other Australian Colonies without it being considered any disparagement that it should do so. I have reason to think that it will be satisfactory to our Secretary to know that a person occupying the position which I do, and which he, at any rate respects, has risen to second the vote of thanks proposed by Dr. Cockburn. As Dr. Cockburn has said, Mr. Jenkins, besides being Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of this colony, has an Australian or an Australasian reputation; and I am quite certain that the character which he has gained in this colony, and in the other colonies of Australia, for his ability as the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of this colony, has been well exemplified in the duties which he has performed for this Conference. I know, from the position I occupy, how much of the smooth working of deliberative assemblies is the result of the manner in which those duties are performed by the Clerk of the Legislature. We are all of us assured by the manner in which Mr. Jenkins has performed the duties of Secretary, that those duties could not have been more efficiently performed by anybody else. The comfort and convenience of the members has been most careful studied by him, and we shall go away with the most gratifying remembrances of the attention which has been paid to us by him.

The motion was agreed to.

The PRESIDENT.-Gentlemen, I think I may, on behalf of Mr. Jenkins, take the liberty of thanking you for the way in which you have shown your appreciation of his services.


Mr. DEAKIN moved, That the Conference do now adjourn.

The motion was agreed to.

The Conference then (thirty-five minutes past noon) adjourned sine die.

By Authority: ROBT S. BRAIN, Government Printer, Melbourne