SYDNEY MONITOR & COMMERCIAL ADVERTISER
Wednesday Morning, September 13, 1941.
Nothing (undecipherable), nor (undecipherable) not down to (undecipherable).
In a former number of our journal, we published a Report from Captain Grey, late commandant of an expedition into the interior of Australia, upon the best means of promoting the civilization of the aboriginal inhabitants of New Holland.
In that Report, Captain Grey expressed his opinion, that the great obstacle to all the attempts which had hitherto been made for the civilization of the aborigines, was the existence of the principle, "that although this (undecipherable) should, as far as European property and European subjects were concerned, be ade amenable to British Laws, yet, so long as they only exercised there own customs upon themselves, and not too immediately in the presence of Europeans, they should be allowed to do so with impunity.
By the following minute by his Excellency Sir George Gipps, on Captain Grey's Report, our readers will perceive, that His Excellency denies that the principle or practice alluded to by Captain Grey, has been sanctioned for many years past, by any Act of the Government of New South Wales, whatever my have been the case in other Australian Colonies. On the contrary, the language held by this Government has been, that the aborigines are Her Majesty's subject ; and, that whilst they are entitled in every respect to the benefit and protection of English Law, they are amenable also to the penalties imported on infractions of the law, whether the offence be committed against one of themselves, or against white men.
After treating of that portion of Capt, Grey's Report relating to the disadvantages which the aborigines are supposed to labour under, from the inadmissibility of their evidence in Courts of Law, His Excellency, by his minute, proceeds to express his approval of the latter part of the Report, which refers to the mean by which the aborigines may be induced to become a voluntary labourers for wages.
The (undecipherable) is a copy of His Excellency's minute :-
Minute by His Excellency (undecipherable) Sir George Gipps on Captain Grey's Report in the Secretary of State, on the (undecipherable) of improving and (undecipherable) the Aborigines of New Holland.
The first fourteen paragraphs of the Report, represent the (undecipherable), which, in the opinion of Captain Grey, grow out of a practice, or supposed practice, of treating the Aborigines as a conquered people, and allowing them from a feeling of generosity, to be governed by their own laws, in matters wherein they only are concerned.
I am of course unable to speak of the practice in other Australian Colonies, or to say what may be the language held by the G (undecipherable) of those Colonies towards the Aborigines : but the practice alluded to by Captain Grey, has not for many years past been sanctioned by any Act of the Government of New South Wales ; the language held by this Government being, that the Aborigines are Her Majesty's subjects : and that whilst they are entitled in every respect to the benefit and protection of the English Law, they are amenable also to the penalties imposed on infractions of the law, whether the offence be committed against one of themselves, or against white men. The practice of the Government also, is, as far as possible, in conformity with this language : and no law save English Laws, or to speak more correctly, the Law of the Colony founded on English Law, is recognized as being of any force in it.
It is true that in administering the Law, and enforcing the penalties of it, a difference is frequently made, between savages who understand it not, and persons of European origin : but this difference is invariably in favour savage : and if it were not so, the Law would become the instrument of the most grievous injustice.
It is only the more obvious offences against society, that can, with any degree of justice, be visited against the savages with extreme severity, - such as murder, rape, violence against the person, and other offences, which there can be no doubt, should be regarded alike by the savage and the civilized man as deserving of punishment.
The next five paragraphs of Captain Grey's Report, relate to the disadvantages which the Aborigines are supposed to labour under, from the inadmissibility of their evidence in Courts of Law.
On this head, it is only necessary to remark, that an Act of Connell was passed in this Colony, in the year 1839, (III. Victoria, No.16.) to admit their evidence, and that it was disallowed at home, the disallowance of it being notified to me, by the Secretary of State, on the 11th of August, 1840, and published in the Government Gazelle of this Colony.
It seems to me however essential to remark, that the inadmissibilty of their evidence, acts perhaps quite as often in favour of the Aborigines as against them. The hardship of the exclusion of evidence that might be favourable to them, is always urged on the jury, both by their Counsel, and by the Judge ; and is taken in consideration by the Executive, in carrying into effect the judgement of the Court. The admission indeed of the evidence was in 1839, as much called for in this Colony, by persons who had suffered from the aggressions of the blacks, as by those who advocate their civilization ; and complaints have long been loud, that whilst the penalties of the Laws are rigorously enforced against persons who commit violence on the Aborigines, the Aborigines themselves are, when brought into our Courts, almost invariably acquitted.
This has operated, there is some reason to believe, very unfavourably for the Aborigines, as from the difficulty and uncertainty of bringing them to justice, there is a disposition engendered in the minds of the less principled portion of the white population, to take the law into their hands, as was the case, when about three years ago, not less than twenty-eight Aboriginal natives were barbarously murdered in the Liverpool (undecipherable) District : an act of atrocity for which seven white men paid the forfeit of their lives on the scaffold.
I may further observe, that Counsel in usually assigned by the Supreme Court, to any natives brought for trial before it ; and that the Government always provides the attendance of interpreters, when they can possibly be found. Mr. (undecipherable), a missionary of he London Society, has usually acted on such occasions : and he must I doubt not, consider it his business to protect the natives, as well as to interpret for them.
I have moreover recently, on the application of the Chief Justice, appointed a standing Counsel for the Aborigines, who will receive a fixed payment or fee from the Government. for every case in which he is engaged. The fee is to be three guineas for every case in Sydney, and five guineas in the country. The remainder of Captain Grey's report, I am disposed to think by far the most valuable part of it, as it relates to the (undecipherable) by which the Aborigines may become voluntary labourers for wages.
I consider this the most important part of the Report, because I am myself firmly persuaded, that next to the diffusion of Christian Instruction, the use of money, or to speak more correctly, the enjoyments which the use of money commands, are the most effectual of all means that can be resorted to, in advancing civilization.
I have on various occasions, and particularly in answer to an address presented to me at Wellington Valley, by the inhabitants of the County of (undecipherable), endeavoured to persuade the settlers of New South Wales, to look to the blacks for a supply of labour.
I have also seriously contemplated the introduction of rewards to persons employing them, somewhat after the manner that is suggested by Captain Grey, but have hitherto been deterred from attempting it, by the fear of the abuse to which such a practice might lead, and the certain difficulties that would attend on the distribution of the rewards.
It is by the employment of the Aborigines as labourers for wages, and the education of their children in Establishments conducted either by Missionaries, or Official Protectors, that I consider the civilization of the Aborigines of this Continent must be worked out, if it is ever to be accomplished.
It may perhaps be observed, that my opinions with respect to the employment of the Aborigines, are at variance with those of many persons, who consider it essential to keep them as far as possible out of contact with white men.
I agree with these persons in thinking, that Missionary, or other establishments for the education of Aborigines, should be placed as far as possible from the (undecipherable) of ordinary settlers, and I have accordingly directed the fixed establishments of the Protectors to be so placed in the Port Phillip district : but at a distance from these establishments, I consider that it is by contact with white men, and by being placed as nearly possible on a par with them, that the civilization of the Aborigines is most likely to be advanced.
It must be admitted indeed, that this will frequently expose them to temptations, which they may not be strong enough to withstand, the men to the use of ardent spirits, the women to be seduced from their husbands or natural protectors.
Already, however, a Law exists in the colony, which inflicts a penalty of £5 on any person who may be convicted of giving or selling spirits to an Aboriginal native : and a law may perhaps be devised that shall give further protection to the women.
It is also observed, that during the last session of the Council, an Act was passed to prevent the Aborigines, as far as possible, from using or having fire (undecipherable).
Government House, Sydney,
8th July, (undecipherable).
Colonial Secretary's Office.
Sydney, 22nd April, (undecipherable).
GENTLEMEN, - Referring to the conversation which the Governor had with the the members of the Committee of the Church Missionary Society, shortly after his return from Wellington in the month of December last, I am directed to express His Excellency's readiness to devote the sum of £30 per annum, to the purchase of rewards for distribution amongst the Aborigines belonging to the Missionary Establishment at Wellington Valley.
The reward should, the Governor considers, be given equally to children as to adults, and should be awarded for general industry, and good conduct, as well as for proficiency in school exercises, or in the mechanical or agricultural skill.
The prices should consist principally of useful articles, and especially of such as come frequently into use : books may of course be given , but they should not be exclusively religious books.
It is by no means to be understood that the whole sum of £50, is necessarily to be expended in every year : the expenditure should, on the contrary be at first kept considerably within the £50, in order that the prices may be increased in number and value in future years, should the effect produced by them, render such an increase advisable.
The grant is made for five years certain, and during these five years, the unexpended balance of one year may be carried on to the next : no part of the money, however, must be applied to any other purpose than that for which it is granted.
I am directed to add, that whenever the number of Aboriginal children (or persons under the age of sixteen) at the Establishment shall on the average of the whole year, be not less than fifty, the amount allowed for rewards will be increased to £100 per annum.
I have the honour &c.,
(Signed). E. DEAS THOMSON.
The Corresponding Committee of the Church Missionary Society.