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(Debate in Parliament)
Mr GAUNSON asked the Chief Secretary --- notice what steps would be taken to mitigate to the families of the constables murdered at Mansfield the great calamity that had fallen upon them. He suggested, as the police who were engaged in hunting those men were necessarily – from centres of population, and as they had a standing army here of something like 150 well trained men, that they might be sworn in as special constables and sent to protect the various townships in the district. He moved the adjournment of the House in order that the matter might be discussed.
Mr GRAVES seconded the motion. He had had an interview with the Chief Secretary on the subject that very morning, and he was quite satisfied that the latter had done everything that a man could do. (Hear, hear.) He thought it would take some time to effect the capture of the outlaws. Some increased exertions ought to be taken to relieve the civilians from the very arduous task they had imposed upon themselves, viz., to search for Sergeant Kennedy. He would read a telegram he had this morning received from a justice of the peace in the district:- “Nothing further of Kennedy. Another party has gone in search. Why does not the Commissioner send up 100 constables to assist the search instead of leaving it to civilians?” From some further information he had received he was rather of opinion that the murderer had left the Mansfield district for the Beechworth district. They had at least twenty or thirty sympathisers in the former district, and there was a great scare there. Two brothers-in-law of the guilty parties had been arrested, and thought that the Chief Commissioner had taken such steps as would allay the fear of the people of Mansfield .
Mr ORR thought that nothing could be more unfortunate for the district of Mansfield than the raising of such an amount of excitement as would be inspired in the sending of a paid force
to the country. He said that it was a slander
to the Mansfield district to say that they had
---. It might be perfectly true that there
were twenty or thirty people intercepted in those outlaws, but was it to be said that a populated district like Mansfield was to be at the mercy of twenty or thirty people? He had no doubt that the force already on its way would be
– for the protection of the district. He
hoped the Chief Secretary would do all in his power to repair the excitement and the rushing shout of volunteers in the bush. He believed that volunteers would hinder the police from the successful performance of their duty.
Mr LANGRIDGE agreed with the last speaker. He recollected very well when bushranging was
rife in New South Wales the – given way
the outlaws were not captured was because they were sided by their friends. Immediately they crossed the boarder they were invariably captured,
and it had been - - Victoria ’s pride that such was the
-. He had no fear but that in a few days they would hear of the arrest of the murderers.
Mr BILLSON recollected that Power continued at large in Victoria for two or three years. The reward should not rest until it reached ₤1000 per man. ₤200 would not provide the rations necessary for party to successfully capture the murderers.
Mr YOUNG hoped that the warrants would be issued for the capture of the men dead or alive. He thought that it was only fair that the police should be able to act quite freely and untrammelled from the conditions of an ordinary arrest on warrant. He hoped that the Chief Secretary would outlaw the men. (Mr Gillies: He cannot do it) He could do it; it was done in the case of Power.
Mr CASEY called attention to the fact that it was not until the reward reached ₤1000 that he was captured, and he believed a similar sum would now be the best way of dealing with the outlaws. He would strongly advise the Chief Secretary to take such steps as would blot evil from the colony the odism of sheltering those men. (Mr Woods: We will have to blot out the whole gang.)
Mr BERRY said that directly he had arrived in town that morning he sent to the Chief Commissioner of Police to ascertain what had been dun and whether it was possible to do anything further; and above all to ascertain the fate of Sergeant Kennedy. The Commissioner had advised him that he had done all that it was possible to do in order to bring those men to justice. The parties were all well armed, and one of the parties was already in the district in search of the men. In addition to that there was volunteering going on which was principally for the object of discovering the remains of Sergeant Kennedy, the supposition being that he had been murdered. He had suggested to the Chief Commissioner of Police that the reward should be increased from ₤200 to ₤500, and that the Government should enact a law similar to what was in force in New South Wales when bushranging was rife there making it penal to harbour and assist bushrangers. He had received a note from Captain Standish stating that the latter had perused the Sydney Act referred to, and saying that Mr Harriman was preparing the necessary amendments should the Government carry out their intention to enact a similar measure. Captain Standish thought it to be highly desirable that such a measure should be passed. If the bill were ready that day, he (Mr Berry ) would ask for the suspension of the standing orders in order to introduce and pass it; if not, they could take it tomorrow. Inspector Nicolson had been sent up-country from Melbourne in charge of the whole affair, and instructions had been given to that officer to spare no reasonable expense apart from the reward in obtaining all the information which would enable the murderers to be captured. He would be happy to entertain any further suggestions hon. Members might make. The law at present provided some compensation for families of constables killed in the exercution of their duty. In this case there were exceptional circumstances that the Government would certainly take steps to supplement that compensation. (Cheers.) He had not yet had time to communicate it to the Chief Commissioner, but he intended that the widow of the deceased constables referred to by the hon. member for Ararat should retrive? the pay due to her husband for the present.
Mr BILLSON wished to inform the House that one of the murderers came into Benalla a few days ago, and such was the terror caused by his appearance that all the publicans in the place shut their houses at nine o;clock. That man went and kicked in the doors of three publichouses, and the police dared not take him up. Such, was the report as he had received it.
The petition for adjournment was then put and approved.
Sir BRYAN O’LOGHLEN moved the second reading of the bill, the provisions of which he explained. It was intended that the bill should remain in operation for twelve months, applicable to all parts of the colony. The provisions were very stringent, but the Government had in this case to deal with a particular district in a remote part of the colony, on the margin of a mountainous district, and the Government should be armed with full power to take steps to bring to justice the persons guilty of the late outrages.
Sir JOHN O’SHANASSY thought the bill should be made explicit. As it stood the wrong persons might be shot as an outlaw.
Mr F.L. SMITH said the publication of notice is the Gazette and newspapers of the fact of the offenders being outlawed would give them full motion, and facilitate their escape.
Sir BRYAN O’LOGHLEN remarked that there was no more danger of a wrong person being shot under this bill than under the present law.
Mr DWYER was of opinion that there was no necessity for the present bill. The law as it stood was sufficient, giving all the power asked for by the bill. Morgan, the bushranger, was shot, and the civilian who shot him was not placed on his trial.
Mr RAMSAY regretted to hear the remarks of the hon. member who had just sat down. Nothing whatever of the kind had ever occurred in the colony before.
Dr MADDEN pointed out that if any one shot one of these outlaws without calling on them to surrender or attempting to apprehend them he would be liable to be placed on his trail for murder, and might be convicted of manslaughter. (Mr Dywer: I don’t think it). It was law that if any men stole upon these outlaws, and shot them like a kangaroo, the Attorney-General would be bound to place that person on his trial, though no doubt the jury would acquit him without leaving the box.
Mr CASEY said the case of Morgan was brought before the House and the Attorney-General (Mr Higinbotham) was asked whether the man shot him would be placed on his trial, and he said he would not. But the option of placing the man on his trial raised with the Attorney-General. He agreed with Dr Madden as to the necessity of the bill, and the Attorney-General should be supported in bringing it forward.
After some remarks from Mr Mackay. The second reading was agreed to and the bill was passed through its remaining stages.
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