The Royal Commission evidence for 31/8/1881
(see also introduction to day 47)
F. C. Standish giving evidence
16210 The system of confidence with the officers. Instead of a gentleman occupying the responsible position of Chief Commissioner of Police undertaking solely the responsibility of the plan of operations which might or might not be successful, would it not add to the probable efficacy if he consulted with the officers under his charge?— I used always to consult with officers I had confidence in; but there are lots of men in the police force whose opinion I would not be inclined to take, not that I want to say anything against them
16211 There is something implied in that—that there were some officers who were not deserving of confidence?— I mean whose opinion I would not value.
16212 May I ask what are their names?— I do not think that is fair.
16213 Was it any officer in charge of that district?— No.
16215 Do you remember upon whose recommendation the force was weakened in the North-Eastern district before the Kellys broke out. There were several stations closed—Glenmore and Hedi—and several had one or two constables taken away from them. How did that come about?— It is such a long time ago, and having no official documents to look back to, I can hardly be expected to give an off-hand answer to that.
16216 Do you remember any reports coming in against the closing of those stations?— I believe, from Mr. Nicolson's evidence, he states that he reported against Glenmore being broken up; but this was many years ago, and I have no distinct recollection of what occurred at the time.
16217 Did Mr. Nicolson report more that once against it?— I cannot tell you.
16218 Were you aware that it was a district notorious for cattle-stealing and horse-stealing?— Had been for years.
16219 Do you think if those stations had been kept at their usual strength that there would have been so much likelihood of the outbreak?— I do not think that question would have affected the outbreak. There was no doubt the outbreak was not premeditated; but at the time of the outrage on Fitzpatrick the men took to the bush, and then the shindy began. That station at Glenmore was at a very out-of-the-way place, and there was only one constable there.
16220 Was not it on the track of the mountains?— It was close to a station that belonged to the Quin family.
16221 Was the lawless character of the North-Eastern district fully reported to you before those stations were abolished?— It was generally known to be a cattle-stealing district for many years.
16222 The Hedi district was opened about that time, and I see in this report of Mr. Nicolson's upon the district, of 2nd August 1877, he says:— “Crime report book.—About six cases to date in 1877, mostly horse-stealing, which horses were ultimately recovered, impounded in New South Wales. This is a form of crime which is said to be common here, when the Murray River is low. The animals are said to be impounded with the view of buying them out cheap. They are frequently recovered, but the offenders, said to he New South Wales men, are never convicted. I can see no difficulty in bringing the offenders to justice, if the Ovens district police make systematic arrangements, with the co-operation of the well-known Mr. Singleton , who is in command of the New South Wales police, Albury district.” Was there any action taken on that to increase the security of property in the district?— The police force was not increased there.
16223 Mr. Montfort, when under examination on this question, was asked:— “Is it your opinion that, if the police stations which were dispensed with had been kept up and the same watchfulness observed, that the Kelly difficulties which afterwards occurred would have been prevented?” he replied — “It would certainly have had that effect no doubt—the same stations, and proper men in charge. I have heard that the man placed in charge of Glenmore station was utterly unfit. I did not think of that just now, when you were asking about the abolition of the station. There was a constable named McInerney; this I heard afterwards——. Was that the man dismissed?— He died in the Lunatic Asylum I think, or got killed—I am not certain.”
16224 Did it ever come under your notice that efficient bushmen were taken away from that district and men who could hardly sit upon a horse were sent up to occupy their positions?— We admit no men into the mounted police force unless they can ride well. Of course some young men, who have been young experienced bush-riders, are better riders than others; but every man has to pass as a rider, and if he shows he is a bad rider he is not taken on.....
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