Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

The President's closing Address

The President's closing Address.

The resident said: Before I put that question, the Council will, I am sure, permit me to make a few closing remarks, if I may so term them. I think I may fairly congratulate the members of the Council at the close of this its first session. One member of this Council a few days ago referred to this first session as the launching of the federal ship, and I think that is a very happy illustration. I think also with respect to this first session that we may regard it not as the first voyage of that ship—not as a voyage intended for, what would be called in commercial circles, the purposes of profit, for carrying cargo and merchandise—but we should regard this first session rather as a trial trip of the good ship that has been launched. Regarding it then more as a trial trip than as the first voyage of the ship, we have every reason to feel satisfied with what has been done. We find that under the Act under which we are constituted, and under which we have met on this occasion that we are appointed to perform those acts both of legislation and of representation to Her Majesty the Queen, which will hereafter constitute, as they have during the present session constituted the chief functions of this Council. So far as legislation is concerned the Council has intentionally avoided entering into any substantial or substantive legislation. A few Acts have been passed—principally of a preliminary character and with a view to prepare for that more substantial legislation which we hope will be effected in succeeding sessions of the Council. It was quite evident that, meeting as we did, almost without concert, or with that concert only which was brought about by telegrams, letters, and other communications of a necessarily imperfect character, it was not possible that this Council should enter into any very important work during its first session. Our great object has been to create the Council, and to establish in connection with the Council such machinery as we are empowered to establish and such machinery as will conduce to the effective working of the Council in years to come. One of the chief things we have done on the present occasion is the appointment of a Standing Committee, and I have no doubt whatever that the committee will be found to be the greatest aid to the labours and work of any succeeding session. The duty cast upon it by the standing orders is to prepare, to a certain extent at all events, the work of future sessions, and to gather into a focus prior to the ensuing session the general views, desires, wishes, and intentions of the different colonies in the federation This Council can prepare on future occasions to deal with subjects which shall have been through the medium of this Standing Committee submitted to the various federated colonies for discussion. The Council will meet and be able to deal with the subjects submitted to it by this Standing Committee after having had the advantage of all the criticisms and suggested amendments which can be made in connection with them. One or two things have appeared to me as worthy of note in connection with the Council. The first thing is the satisfactory working of the machinery, which has been evidenced by the quiet, peaceable, and effective manner in which subjects have been dealt with—by legislation and by resolution—subjects of high importance, such as the one we dealt with this morning. We may congratulate ourselves that the machinery has worked so satisfactorily. One thing is impressed in my own mind—that is the absolute necessity of com- page 127 pleting this federation. We feel that while we have a potentiality for good in our possession to an extent which is hardly yet dreamt of, we are hardly able to exercise our power as fully as we would like to do unless the other colonies come in and help us. I hope it will be one of the duties, as it will be one of the ambitions, of the Standing Committee which we have appointed, and of the worthy chairman thereof, to give especial attention to this before the next session of the Council, and I have no hesitation in saying that to bring in the outstanding colonies will be almost if not as great a work as the constitution of the Council in the first instance. Another thing has occurred to me, which I will throw out as a hint, that in dealing with legislation in this Federal Council we have to deal with it on a different footing to that on which local Parliaments deal with theirs. In dealing with legislation, a single colony has only to deal with its own laws, and so does not require to exercise the same caution as this Council does. The same evils would not arise from its want of caution. The most that could arise would be that it would be itself to blame for anything wrong in its own affairs. But this Council has to deal with the laws of the federation, and so hon. members require a greater amount of colonial law than lay members pretend to possess. It has been evident to me during the session that, but for the assistance of the professional men the members of the Bar who are also members of the Council, some of the things which have been done on this occasion, and which it was highly desirable we should do, could not have been safely done. I will, at all events, point out to the colonies which send two representatives hero the desirability that one of those two should be the Attorney-General of the Colony. That opinion I present entirely from my own personal standpoint. I do not know that much now remains to be said in connection with this first session. Personally, I desire to thank hon. members for the kind support which they have given me. I do not mean in the preserving of order, because to speak of that would be an absurdity, but generally in the discharge of the duties which, although light on the present occasion, have been, nevertheless, responsible. The kindly way in which members have worked together has been to me a great pleasure. I may say that the whole circumstances and surroundings of the present session have been of a character to leave the most pleasant memories in my mind. Then there is the pleasantness of the chamber itself. If we had searched the whole of the Australasian colonies we could not have found a more convenient and pleasant chamber than this to legislate in. The extraordinary—I call it deliberately extraordinary—kindness that has been shown to us who are strangers to Hobart by the members of the Council belonging to Tasmania, by the members of the Government, and by the inhabitants of Hobart generally, has created in my mind—and I think I am justified in speaking for the members of the Council—a state of kindly feeling towards this colony that I for one never before experienced, and that I shall certainly never forget. I have been over many parts of the world in a variety of capacities, and I have never at any time experienced, I can safely say, so much kindness and attention. I do not know whether any other member desires to make a few remarks on this motion, but I will resume the chair for a little time to afford any individual member, if he desires to do so, the opportunity of speaking on the motion for adjournment.

Mr. Griffith: I wish, sir, to take the opportunity of the motion to say one or two words. I rise, sir, to express, on my own behalf, and I believe on that of all the other members of the Council, my regret that probably you may not be a member of it at our next meeting. We have to thank you very much, sir, for the labours you have performed during the interval that has occurred between the closing of the convention at Sydney and the assembling of this Council; and those labours, I can assure you, will not be forgotten by the Australasian colonies. With regard to the session itself, I may say, without any suspicion of undue flattery, that you have contributed very much to the successful working of the Council by the manner in which you have occupied the chair. We feel, sir, that we owe you a debt of gratitude for the services you have rendered, and our only regret is that we fear that, at any rate for some time, you may not continue to be a member of the Council. (Hear, hear.)

The President: I have to thank the hon. member for Queensland, and the Council generally, for the very kindly remarks he has made personal to myself. The shadows of departing day usually create a feeling of sadness in the mind, and I must say that in the midst of the pleasure which I have experienced in seeing this Council meet for its first session. I have experienced to a certain extent a feeling of regret that my public life, at all events for a time, may be said now to be at an end. I have great pleasure in thinking, in connection with this matter, that although I am withdrawing from the scene, there are others rising up who will, I have no doubt, more worthily perform the work committed to my care by the Convention at Sydney in 1883. I retire from the scene with the most perfect confidence that the good work will be carried on most energetically; and I think the minds of all members of the Council, and the minds of all the colonies in the federation, will turn at once to the central figure in the hon. gentleman whom you have elected to be chairman of the Standing Committee. I have no hesitation in saying—and I express the feelings of this Council and of all the colonies—that we look to that gentleman as the proper person to have been elected on the present occasion, and I look forward with the most perfect confidence to the future of this Council. I pretend to no gift of prophecy, but I can see a clear and distinct vision of large meetings of future Federal Councils in this or some other Chamber of the Australasian colonies; and that it will, perhaps more speedily than many people imagine, become a very great power indeed. I only hope, and will repeat it once more, that the efforts of the Standing: Committee during the recess to bring in the outstanding colonies will be crowned with complete success.