The Royal Commission evidence for 6/4/1881
(see also introduction to day 9)
Francis Augustus Hare giving evidence
1623 I suppose when you or Mr. Nicolson advanced money you knew you would be recouped?
Mr. Nicolson . —I knew I would be recouped, except in Sherritt's case, where I was acting in disobedience to orders, and on my own responsibility.
The Witness . —In giving secret service money I never consulted Captain Standish. I would give a man £2 at night, or £5 out in the bush, as I did on different occasions.
1624 By the Commission. —Did you ever have as an agent who received money in your service a state school teacher?— I had nothing to do with him.
1625 Do you know anybody that had?— Yes; I know Captain Standish and Mr. Nicolson had.
1626 With a state school teacher?— Yes.
1627 You know that of your own knowledge?— I swear that on my oath. A desire has been expressed by Mr. Graves and by Mr. Nicolson that the names of informers should not be mentioned; I have seen numbers of letters from the one you refer to.
1628 Did you know that afterwards it was found he was a sympathizer with the Kellys?— I hope this will not be pressed. I would ask for other reasons that the Press should not put down about the state school teacher, because on the next occasion we shall have nowhere to get our agent from. I am prepared to answer the questions, but I have other reasons in my mind for not giving this information.
1629 Have you any idea of the date of this transaction?— It extended over six months, with a large amount of correspondence. The commencement of it was about the Jerilderie robbery; that was in Captain Standish's time, and it continued in Mr. Nicolson's time, I should think six or seven months.
1630 Is this person still in the employment of the Public Service as a state school teacher?— He is, but he is not in that district. To prevent misapprehension. I had better mention that this schoolmaster who has been referred to was a schoolfellow and intimate acquaintance of Joe Byrne's. Mr. Nicolson, in his report, has said, “I found some of the police very ignorant of how to use their rifles, and short of ramrods. Some of them told me they had never fired a gun in their lives.” All I can say is that our men at Benalla were constantly practising while I was stationed there, and as to the case he alluded to of one constable having shot another, the particulars are the following:—There was a party going out for practice, and they were sitting on a cart, and they began pointing their Martini-Henry rifles at the man who fired the shot at the other. He picked up a rifle, which was a Spencer rifle (there were only about seven of them in the district), and, not knowing the action of it, the fact of his opening it to see if there was a cartridge in it loaded it. He then put up the gun to his shoulder, and it went off, and shot the man in the arm. I most distinctly state that the men were constantly practised in firing whilst I was there, and there were many of them most excellent shots. There is one remark I wish to make with reference to my former evidence. The newspapers reported it that I said there were only three good bushmen in the district; what I said was I had three good bushmen in my party. Of course, all those men coming from flat countries—Sandhurst, Castlemaine, Belfast, and the whole colony sent men there—they came into a strange country, and would be at a loss to know where to go. Mr. Nicolson has also stated he “received a communication from the Chief Commissioner of Police that Superintendent Hare stated we were wasting ammunition, and was ordered to stop.” The circumstances were:—I, of course, being in charge of the depot, had the stores under my command there; and a requisition was one day sent up to me at the depot, approved of by Captain Standish, for a large supply of ammunition. When he was inspecting the depot I said, “I have got a requisition here for a very large supply of ammunition. Are you aware that so many rounds have been expended since such and such a time?” He said, “No, I was not aware of that;” and he took the requisition away. Upon that, I believe, he wrote to Mr. Nicolson to say that I complained there was no more ammunition to be supplied, or words to that effect. But I had nothing to do with it; I merely brought the matter under his notice as the head of the department. I had no control over the district at all. That is all I have to say.
1631 Your evidence is complete?— Yes; I know of nothing else I have to tell you.
1632 Did you on many occasions, with your search party, go back to the Wombat, the scene of the murders of the constables?— I never went back once; my party never did; I never saw it. I was once within three miles of it.
The witness withdrew.
1633 .By the Commission?— What is your position in the Police Department?— Chief clerk.
1634 We have called you for a particular purpose. It has been given in evidence here by Captain Standish that when he came back from Benalla he found the office in a very unsatisfactory state—in a state of muddle; is it your work to have all the minutes that come into the office laid before you as well as the book-keeping?— I have the general management of the office......
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