Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Railways - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta - Chinn, Mr. H., Engineer - Report of Royal Commissioner appointed to inquire into certain charges against

Download PDF Download PDF









Presented b'!l Command; ordered tv be printed , 27th Nove mber, 1913.

l C111f ftf P aper.- Preparation, not _gi ven ; Q;)() a.pproximatr ro .. t nf pr inting anrl £ fi.l

J' rintt!ri and Published for th e GOVERNMENT of the C mnJO:\'WEALTH of At;STRALIA bv ALBERT j. MULLETT, Government Printer f o r the State of Victoria.

No. 55.-F. l6507.




Judges' Chambers, Melbourne, F ebruary 3rd, 1913.

To the Right Honorable THmus, BARON DENMAN , a Member of His Majesty's Most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Dis­ tingttished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief

of the Commonwealth of Australia.

I, Your Excelle11cy 's Commissioner, whose hand and seal nre hereu11to set having been appointed by Your Excellency to inquire into and repor t upon certain charges made against Mr. Henry Chinn by the Honorable James Mackinnon Fowler in speech es delivered by him in his place in Parliament on the 17th day of Pecei:nber,

1912, and reported in the Official Parliamentary Debates f()l· that day, copy whereof was attached to Your Excellency's Commission, on pages 7281 to 7290 in clusive, do humbly submit to Your gxcellency this my Report. ·

From an examination of the said pages 7281-7290 inclusive, it appears that the said · the Honorable James Mackinnon Fovder made six independent charges against the ·said Mr. Henry Chinn. , These will be most conveniently dealt with in the order in which they appear in the said speech.

1. The first charge related to a testimonial supplied by the said Mr. Chinn as to hi·s character and ability. The document is in the words following :-" Collin s- street West., M elbourne, 14th August, 1898.

Dear Sir, At your n•quest we have mncb pleasure in committing to paper our appreciation of the valnable serviecs rendered by you as our engineer in connection wit.b various carried ont by us under the

P•!hlic \V orks an• I R a il way Departments and Melbourne Harbour Trnst. The eonstrnction of the 11 C,,. entrance to the Gipps,and L akes was a work t.l mt Jwcetisitated. more t11an the ordinrtry amount of and skill, an d we are confiden t the s uccessful issue was onl y

broug ht about by the untiring energ-y and ability displayed by yon.

So much were we impresf:ed with yon on the above works that we ,le termiaed to e ngage you ,on all future contracts, and in every instance fo1 a period of about eleven years your professiona l k nowledge on all clas!'es of work proved in valuable to us . It would be bard to s i11 g le out a ny parLicular branch of engineering to enlogise yon on , for you are equally fam il iar wi th harbour and river works, sewerage and

railway construction, and as the sewerage works of M:elbonrn e w ere some of the mos t d•fficult ever carried out in Australia, the successful issue you brought our co ntracts to demands the hig hest praise from us. W trust your career '\\Till be a prospero us one, and feel confident, if t ne !?resent

tlwmselvel'l, you will do full jul5tiee to your office, and continue to earn fu rther dJ stmcttOn m your profession.

Fl. CKINN, EsQ., C.E.

Faithfully yours,

(Signed) G ARNSWORTHY & SMITH, Contracton."

It rather t han asserted hy the Honorable

Mr. Fowler-(X) That there is no genuine orig in al of this docu me nt ; and (Y) That it contains untrue and misleadiug statement. .


( IX) After a c:treful consideration of the _unab le to that I

believe that a .genuine original of tins test1m om_al ever ex isted, a?d, on the other hand I cannot say that I am convrn ced that a genume original never did, exist, :u_1 d 1_ am co nstrained to put :UY conclusion on this part of the Jnqmry 111 th e s.ome':·hat un satisfactory form that it has not been proved to my satisfactiOn that there never was

a genuine original of t?is testimonial _th is part of. the ...

charge against Mr. 9hmn; that no genu!n e or!gmal ever existed has, .in my opinion, fa1led for want of sufficient evidence . •


The doubt and difficulty arise in this way-( a) No alleged original has been produced and it is stated that su ch original has been lost or destroyed. (b) TJ1ere is no person living except Mr." Chinn who ever saw the

original so fa.r as you r Commissioner has been abl e to ascertain. (c) Mr. Chinn's evidence as t o how and wh en he got the original is unsatisfa ctory, as also his evidence as to how and when it

was di sposed of, lost, or destroyed. (d) Mr. Garnsworthy, the person who must have signed such document, if it existed, is .dead. (e) The document being lost or destroy ed, I , have been unable to

compare the handwriting in the document with that m documents written or signed by Mr.-Ga.rnsworthy. {f) Some of the statements in the said testimonial are not m accord with the facts. See below.

( 1 Y) As to the second branch of the charge on this document it appears to me that the document is misleading in the following respects :-(a) From the testimonial being dated the 14th · August, 1898, from the testimonial referring to " the construction of the

new Entrance to the Gippsland Lakes,'' it would be · inferred that -the writer was speaking of the work done at the

Entrance, and of the work done there up to that date, or done at or about that date. Now, the work done by Messrs.

Garnsworthy and Smith was done in or about the year 1884, . and the total amount of this contract was £13,079 ;

whereas in August, 1898, the amount expended on the Gippsland Lakes Entranee was over £100,000. (See exhibits "0 " and " 1'," and Mr. Catani's evidence at pages 12 and 1 :n, and, further, uotwithstanding Mr. Chinn's statement to the contrary, Mr. W. P. Smith's evidence and the books of the firm of Garnsworthy and Smith, to which he referred,

satisfy me that Mr. Chinn was not engag,ed on the constru,c­ tion of t he new Entrance to the Gippsland Lakes, but ·wa s employed by that firm for the purpose of surveying land in that neighbourhood, so that the whole reference in the aforesaid testimonial to the Gippsland Lakes is, in .JTiy opinion, untrue and misleading. . . But, if the testimonial were a genuine one, I don't know that any useful end

would be attained by my expressing au opinion on the extent of Mr. Chinn's moral culpabilit-y in not criticising the aCCUI:acy Or truthfulneSS of ,the testimonial which ,he was using; as he does not put forward the document as his statement, but as con­ taining some one's opinion concerning him.

2. 'fhe second charge by the said Honorable Jat:nes Fowler is in connexion with the testimonial purporting to be signed by J. Falkingham, railway co.ntr-actor. The document. is in the words and figures following :-" ' Warleig h, ' Brigi1ton,

Victori.a, 23rd April, 1903.

Mr. H enry Chinn, 1-ivil E ngineer, has been employed by me during a great number of y-ea r - 11" Engineer-in-Ch arge of Constn wtion , &c., on almost all the large co ntracts I have in >lilt! I cun , without the sligh test hes itation speak of him in t he very hig hest terms as a p ro fe ssional gentleman. I hav.e .carried out surn e of the larg·est co ntracts in Ne w Soutlt "Va les, Victori a, and T asmani a., u >t J er both th e Governments an d Harbour Boards of these States, also ma ny of the underg round co ntracts i II conne:iion wi th t he. sewerage scheme of Mel bo urne, and I owe a deal of my success to th"' u ntiring eu ergy and marked a bility dis played by Mr. Chinn as my engineer in all these works.

To hear of ·his 'further s ucc_ ess w ill g ive not o,nly me great pleasure, b.u t t he;gr e.a t body of wit,h .. w)lom 'he is deserv E1 tll-y-popu la r, au'd it is due to hitn to,state he is Rn engineer of exceptiotHtl abilit .'· a.utl·.tpat -;lll> UtQ.tG .and popular -gent.J,em3iu in ·his profesEivn ie known -to-me.

'J. ,.





· · ·With regard to this testimonial the Honorable .J. M. Fowler founded his charge on the following letter: which is set out in the official Parliamentary Debates for the 17th D ecember, 1912, at page 7283, and is as follows:- '

'' N ixon-street, 28th November, 1912.


With reference to your iuquiries about the testimonhlls on behalf of :Mr. Chinn, aud signed J. htlkin g lmro, appearing on page 14 2i of the Parliamentary Debates, I beg to state it is not correct th at '.\1r. C!1inn was employed by my father as E ngineer-in-Charge of Construction on almost all the contracts lllJ fath er carried out. Chinu was employed only on t wo contracts, one a ra ilway contract in N ew

:-. uut.h for about six the ot her a contract in Pickl es -street, South Melbourne

for a bon t 'tj 1ree months. He was not in charge of either of these contract:; , but was eng>tged in a sub­ ordinate eapacity without a ny :My brother J oseph and my,elf were on all my father's·

contracts as managerti and partners ami I deny that Mr. Chinn had to do with our or my fa ther's s uccess. On the "ontmry, we ha.d a I!Ood deal of trouble with .VIr . Chinn, and he was finally di smi ssed by my father from .t he sewerage contract in South Melbourne, because he could not carr y out his work in a 'at.isfactory way. Mr. Chinn gave the wrong lines in a drive whic h put my fa ther t o g reat expense. I am positive that my fa th e:- _ never wrote this t estirnoninl and it is most unlikely that he ever

pnt his na.m e to anythin g so incorrec t and misleading. I wis h a lso to point out as proof that this

t.6stimonial was not given by my fa ther that at. the date it bears, 23rd April, 1903, my fa ther was not living

at address stat ed upon it, n&mely, "Wa.rl,·igl•," Brighton. He had left 1here three years previously and at lite da te given on thf:' testimon ia l was liviHg at 95 Riversdale-rond, Gl enferrie. I have n o prejndice what­ e ,·er against Mr. Chinn, but in the interests of truth a nd of my father's goo•! name I consider it my duty to supply you with th e above in fo rmation.

I am, Sir,

Yours faithfully, (Signed) WILLIAM F A LKINGH.4;.M."

This last letter alleges iu effect:-(X.) That there is no genuine original for the testimonial signed "J. Falking­ ham." (Y. ) T hat it co)ltains uutrue or misleading statement::>. W ith r eg• to this testimonial also, f am u na h1 e to that I believe

t hat there ever existed a genuine original uf _ and 1 ;un al_so unable to say that I am convinced t hn t t:o su?h on gmal eve:· am therefore driven to a con clusiOn >nth regard to thrs testrmomal similar to that al'rived at with regard to the previous testimonial,

naanely , thnt it has not been proved t? mJ: satisfaction that there never "vas a o-enuin e orio-in al of this testunomal and that the charge ao-ainst 1\{r. t:JChinn that there is no o-enuine original of this document in my opinion failed for of . The

doubt and ditficultv are occasioned bv cons1deratwns sumlar to those mentioned in to the previous 't estimonial, that is to' say :-(a) No alleged original has been produced, and it is stated that it has been lost or destroyed.

(h) There is no living person except M_ r . who ever saw the

original so far as your Commrsst(mer has been able to ascertain. (c) Mr. Chinn's evidence as to how and when he got the original is unsatisfactory, as also his evidence as to how and when

it was disposed of, lost, or destroyed. (d) Mr. .Falkingham. the must have signed such a

document, if it exist ed, rs dead. (e) The document bein a- lo st or destroyed, I have been unable to compare t he in th e with that m

documents written or srg ncd by Mr . . J. I· alkmg ham. (/) Some of t he statements in the said testimonial are not in

accord with the fact s. (See belo w.) (g- ) W ith reo-ard to this testimon ial th ere I '> alsn this furthe1: difficulty that " Warleig h " h ad not been the

of J. Falkino-b am for some two years before A prrl, 189v, ana be use paper with " Warleigh " marke'd on

it e:i:cept·by ordioa.ry writing.

(2Y) I find that the only work done by Mr. H. Chinn for J. Falkingham was in 1885, the preparation of some tracings for the Derwent Valley Hailway contracts -- work that would be done by any youth in an architect's, surveyor's or engineer's office. In 1895 ¥r. Chinn acted as engineer in charge of construction of an underground .sewer at

Pickles-street, Melbourne. After so acting between two and

three months, he was dismissed, but in 1896 he was again employed by the said ,} . Falkingham for al;>Out six months as engineer in charge of construction of the rail way line from Bogangate to Condobolin, in South Wales. Any other work done by Mr. Chinn was of

trifling character, and consequently the made in the two

fir st paragraphs of the letter of the said .J. Falli:ingham are gross and utterly misleading.

As to the motal obloquy of using such a testimonial--assuming a genuine original existed- I desire to repeat th e last observation made with regard to the previous testimonial

3. The next charge made by the said Honorable J. Fowler against

Me. Chinn will be found at page 7:!84 of the said Parliamentary Debates and it is in these words:-'' In connexion with the appointment of .Mr. Chinn allusion was made b_v that gentleman in his application to a certain patent he alleged he possessed for tlw welding of rails, and the use of which he said was going to be of great benefit in carrying out th.e work of the Transcontinental Railway. ln regard to this I desire to read the followmg letter:-

" Anstralian Tbermit Company ,Limited, , : Engineers a nd Contractors, 38i Kent street, Sydney. · itb December, 1912.


In reply to your inquiry regarding our experience with Mr. H. Chinn, we heg to say that.

wheu Mr. Chinn was acting for a short time in 1909 as Engineer for Messrs. Smith and Timms, during the construction of the Adelaide Electric Tramline, he became acquainted with the Goldschmidt Alumino Thermic System for welding Evidently Chinn must then have studied the Australia!!

gra nted to Dr. Goldschmidt. and finding that a certain patent did not apply to South Australia he, in company with another Adelaide g entleman, manufactured by the w ell-known Thermic .formula a weiding compound, which be called "Kalipsite ", and for which be applied for a Commonwealth patent. Dr. Goldschmidt, the inventor of the Tbermit Welding System oppnsed Chinn's patent application. The latter then offered to sell. his invention f,,r £20,000, reducing his figure shortly after to £1,000, but was told that the iuq:intor of Thermit, as well as the Australian Thermit Co. Ltd., refused t o have any dealmgs 1vhatsoever with Chinn and Company. Chinn then endeavoured to sell his imitated Kalipsitc to the Adelaide and Sydney Tramway Departments, whereupon Dr. Goldschmidt brought an action against Chinn for infringing· his patent rights, and obtained from the Sup1 eme Court of New South hales an injunction with order of cost;; against Chinn, restraining Chinn from infringing the Goldschmidt's Thermit patent rights. The

taxed costs against Chinn amounted to £980 ISs. 9d., of which C hinn has so far not paid one penny. A11 execution Chinn in Western Australia proved· fmitless as Chinn eould pro1'e that he had nothing more than the clothes he was wearing. Yours faithfully,

Australian Thermit Co. Ltd., (Sgd.) 0. GRANOWSKI, C. E., Managing Director."

The reference in Mr. Fowler's speech ''to a patent Mr. Chiun

possessed for the welJing of rails" is to Mr. ChintJ.'s letter Exhibit G,'' in which he says: "It might not be out of place here to make re ference to the negotiations that have been recently conducted between yout· Govermnent and myself regarding rail welding operations on the above railway," &c. This letter is dated June 20th, 1911, and the patent referred to in the above letter of Mr. Granowski had not then been

t·egistered either· in South :\ ustraiia or Wes.tern Australia, and consequently there have been nothing unlawful in Mr. Chinn at that date using there any

methods of weldiug rails, even though those methods might have been patented in Victoria and :..; ew South vVales and Dr. Granowski's letter is oulv fo undation for a charge that he was using some one or more of the Thermit patents iu

New South Wales and bad a judgment recorded against him, with the amount of eosts specified in the Je.tter which costs have not been paid, and is no ground that he could not use 'his "invention" on-the Transconth1ental Port Auguat& to Kalgoorlie., so that, in my opinionr there is no ..substance'.in thi! third charge.


4. The fourth charge made by the Honorable J . M. Fowler will be found at 7289-:7390 of said Parliamentary Debates, and may be shortly stated in

this way-That Mr. Chmnj by the reprAsentation that. he was co-trustee with another that had to lend, induc.ed proposing borrowers to pay

him money to mspect their properties so that they nught obtain loans from Mr. Chinn his co-trustee. The only evidence I have been able to obtain on this subject

IS that of the Honorable George Grahai;n, who alle

is my co-trustee." Assuming this to have been said by Mr.

place alleged by Mr. Graham, it would not prove the charge made against him, as, days before the alleged statements the inspection fees had been

paid and the mspectwn had that day been made but Mr. Chinn denies ever havinlr said that. he was. co-trustee and although I do not doubt the honesty of the George Graham, or his desire to say only that which is true, vet I am convinced that his memory is at fault, and tltat he is mixing up what Mr. Chinn told him with what

t old him, and narrating as cowing from Mr. Chinn what came from others,

and I think that the untrustworthiness of Nlr. Graham's memory is shown by this : that he was very positive that he was not applying for a loau on his own property at that time, and that there could be no mistake about it, and that \lr. Ch inn did not ou that occasion inspect his property, and yet it is clear from applications for loans

passing from his agents, Witson and Hunt to Mr. W. R. Church, and press copy letters thereupon written from W. H. Church to Chinn that the Honorable Mr. Graham was at that time applying for a loan of £3,000 on his property, and that Mr. Church was instructing Mr. Chinn to inspect it, and I am convinced that Mr. Chinn at that time inspeded that property pursuant to those instrut:tions. So far as this

charge is concerned, there is, in my opinion, no case whatever. 5. The fifth charge is contained on page 7290 of the said Parliamentary Debates, and it is that-" When there was much anxiety regarding gold stealin:r Mr. Henry Chinn was trying to dispose of a parcel of gold in Perth, not to the Mint, but to a private buyer, if he could find one at £2 an ounce, about half its value.''

The sole evidence in support of this charge is that of Mr. William Noah Hedges, M. H .R. His evidence may be stated as follows -That in year 190? he had an office in Moir's Buildings, Perth ; that Mr. Chinn came to him and pro­ posed to sell to him eight thousand ounces of gold at £2 an ounce ; that Mr. Chinn had

not the gold with him ; that he told Mr. Chinn that he did not deal in that sort of thing ; that it might only be gilded like a gold brick, whereupon Mr. Chinn .that they did not want the money at present, but wanted one thousand w1thm a week and the other money as it could be paid ; but Mr. Hedges told him that he

would not have any thing to do with it. Mr. Hedges further says as soon as

Mr. Cl1inn left his office he went to Parliament House, the Cabmet were called together and were informe'd of the proposed transaction, and he was that the matter was· put into the hands of the detectives, that on the next day Chmn came to him again in his office and produced from his pocket six seven bars of gold four

or five inches lon g, and between one and a half .and mches .and that he,

M'r. Hedges, believed that Chinn had other baes wtth h1r_n ; that Chmn said that these were a sample of the gold and should p_rove It was good, .that he,

:Vir. Hedges, absolutely declined to buy, and agam went and saw the M1mstry and told them of this further interview. Mr .. Chinn emphatically contradicts but gives an account of his havin.g had smelted gold in his possession and.showmg Jt to. the .of tlus

being about l.5th September, 1906; th1s date. would !"Jt 111 wtth Mr. Hedges evidence. but Mr. Chinn savs "Once and once only m my ltfe have I seen smelted gold. I was doing work fo-r Messrs. 'Harney and H.arney in their offices in Perth. Those offices were in the sanw building as the office of \lr. H edges. The two offices wen'

op posite. one another, separated only by a four-foot pa.ssage. wh:ile I ":as engaged for Messrs. Harney and Harney I was brought m contact m busm.ess a Mr: Ellis who asked me if I had ever seen smelted gold. I told Mr. Eilts I haa not Ellis told me that he would show me some and next day he came into

my ' office between 11 and 12_in the morning and down a and said ,

'Here it is, I'm going upst:urs. I shall be back m a few mmutes. 1 opened the bag, saw two small of gold, my .door I heard Mr. Hedges, and

called him aud showed h1m the two specimens 111 smallmgots. \1 r. Hedges went to his office,. and Mr. Ellis returned in less than ten minutes and took away the gold and that was the end of it."


Mr. -Ellis was called and corroborated the story so-far as it referred to him, hut in. my opinion Mr. Hedges' evidence if could 11ot refer to these two

small mgots, and further, all proposals of sale and all mention . of eight thousand ounces are emphatically denied by Mr. Chinn and I .have to consider how far a co?viction against Mr. Chinn on this charge could be jus_tififd on Mr. Hedges' ev1dence . · . -

· . .If ·Mr. Hedges' evidence be accepted as true and accurate, Mr. Chinn had either stolen gold or received gold knowing it to be stolen. On Mr. Hedges' evidence Mr. Chinn is manifestly either a thief or a receiver of stolen property knowing it to be stolen and he made a hold, barefaced attempt to get Mr. Hedges into a position similar to his own as a receiver of stolen gold. There was no , feeli)lg of his way with Mr. Hedges, no preliminary inquiries, no preliminary

no testing his ground as to how far he might go, but at once, aecord- ,

mg to Mr. Hedges Mr. Chinn says-" I have eight thousand ounces of gold. Wm you buy it at £2 an ounce ?" That 'is in effect saying-" I am a felon.

\Vill you join in this big felony where there may be a big risk but where there is a big profit ? '' l\ ow whatever may be the failings of Mr. Chinn, he is not a fool, and none but a fool would have proceeded in so rash and foolhardy a fashion, bt1t would have made some preliminary suggestions ; specially was it foolhardy on

Mr. Chinn's part after Mr. Hedges had peremptorily declared that he would have' nothing to do with it to have returned next day with some of the gold and placed­ hinlself at the mercy of Mr. Hedges, .who might have retained the gold and ca;Hed the police. This story of Mr. Hedges is, in my opinion, not a _probable one, there is a consideration that influences me more powerfully than that improbability.

After Mr. Chinn's first visit to Mr. Hedges Mr. Hedges immediately reported in person to the whole Cabinet of Western Australia, and the day after the

Cabinet had been so informed Mr. Chinn came to Mr. Hedges' office in Pe:rth with his pockets stuffed with bars of gold and Mr. Hedges again straightway informed the Ministry. Now bearing in mind that there was a certain amount of excitement in Western Australia at that very time about gold stealing, and that a Commission

was then sitting to inquire into the subject, and that Government were in

possession of information of this amazing theft of gold and had full contPpl of all the constabulary and all the detective force of the State and that every detective would have been eager to earn the reputation that woulrl come from making. a seizure and securing a conviction in such an extraordinary case, yet no convietion of ariy kind was obtained, and Mr. Chinn was free. I have asked myself tlus question- " If at the time of the alleged transaction when Mr. Chinn was walking about with the gold in his pocket, and the Government had all the i.,foTmatio.n

Mr. Hedges could give them, with the whole of the detective force of the. State at their command if at that time'· and under those circumstances the Government did not, or could not secure the conviction of M.r. would it b.e right-,at this dat'e to found a conviction on the uncorroborated evidence of Mr. Hedges ?" a-nd. I can of no answer but an emphatic negative.

6 .. 'Fhe sixth charo-e will be found at page 7290 of the said Parliametftary Debates. It is stated i;: these terms :-''One of Mr. Chinn's :first acts after being appointed to his present position, was to get _into communication with a firm which has· a certain patent process from which it naturaJly desires to get some advantage. He informed the Melbourne manager of the firm of his appointment and said that in all probability he would be able to throw some big business in his way, but that there would b.e a commission on it. The words he used in connexion with this suggestion·

of a. commission were that the manager would have to talk to him not iu hundreds but, in thousands of pounds." ·

The manager, John Hose Gorton was called attd absolutely denied that any such conversation ever took place, and so this last eharge wholly fell through. Accompanyi ng this report I send copy of the shorthand-writer's notes. of evidence, copy of all exh ib its ex cept four pla?s and bank wh1eh

three bank pass-books will he found herew1t h, all whiCh I submit for Your Excellency's con sid eration. HENRY HODGES.

P rinted a n d P ublished fo r th e GOVERN)!ENT o f the of AuST RALIA b v ALBERT J. MULIZTT,

Government Printer for the State of Victoria.