Royal Commission Second Report ( page 27)

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The Royal Commission Second Report

thus enlisted the highest political influence on his own behalf, his charge against Mr. Nicolson of having employed similar means to obtain promotion utterly broke down, as the Assistant Commissioner appears to have depended solely for advancement upon his rights of seniority.

10. Superintendent Hare's conduct during the Kelly pursuit was marked by anything but a generous or kindly feeling towards Mr. Nicolson. In paragraph 2 of the protest, Mr. Dixon states that after the Wombat murders Mr. Hare was zealously engaged at the depot in selecting the best men and horses to send to the North-Eastern district. As a matter of fact the reinforcements came to hand slowly, and the district, at the time of the Euroa bank robbery, was unprepared to resist, at all points, the threatened raid, owing to the inadequacy of the police force placed at Mr. Nicolson's disposal.

11. As regards warning the banks of Seymour, Avenel, and Nagambie, Superintendent Hare simply obeyed the instructions given him two days before Mr. Nicolson was apprised of the existence of the prisoner Williamson's communication, in which the information was conveyed regarding the intention of the outlaws to attack the bank at Seymour . Had there been proper concert between the officers at this period, the Euroa bank robbery might have been averted. Captain Standish, while he consulted Mr. Hare, neglected to inform Mr. Nicolson what arrangements had been made to protect Seymour , and made no effort to assist him in repelling any attack that might be made upon the banks in the North-Eastern district.

12. Mr. Dixon, in paragraph 4, states that during the seven months Captain Standish and Superintendent Hare remained in charge of the pursuit no reliable information was obtained respecting the whereabouts of the outlaws. To our minds this fact proves that the officers mentioned were incapable of grappling with the difficulties of the situation, more particularly as they had with them double the number of men, and incurred double the extra expenditure, in prosecuting the pursuit, allowed Mr. Nicolson.

13. As regards Mr. Hare's health having broken down after his seven months' duty, it has been proved in evidence that he was not so incapacitated as to be prevented from attending a series of coursing matches held in the district prior to his return to the depot.

14. When Mr. Nicolson resumed charge in June 1879, sweeping reductions were insisted upon, despite his repeated protestations; and when he applied for additional men for ordinary duty to replace those who had been invalided, Superintendent Hare sent him up from the depot a number of men, described as cripples, who were utterly useless.

15. While Mr. Nicolson was in charge, Superintendent Hare, in a manner highly unbecoming an officer, extracted privately from one of the constables some information respecting the cave party, and immediately informed the Chief Commissioner, as a piece of current gossip, that all about the cave was known at the Depot. Further, while Mr. Nicolson was endeavoring to improve the efficiency of his men by rifle practice, Mr. Hare interfered, and told Captain Standish that the men were simply wasting ammunition. Those points may appear insignificant, but to our minds they indicate a system of tale-bearing undignified and ungracious and calculated to materially obstruct operations against the outlaws.

16. Mr. Dixon's statement in Clause 6, that when Mr. Hare went to Benalla on 2nd June 1880 the police were as far off the capture of the Kelly gang as when he left the district eleven months previously, is a reiteration of Superintendent Hare's assertion, contained in his official report, and is not borne out by the evidence. The allegation also based upon question 1477 is to some extent misleading. There is nothing in the paragraph mentioned to show that the steps taken by Mr. Hare were calculated to prevent supplies being conveyed to the outlaws.

17. Clause 7 of the protest is calculated to convey a false impression. The but party alluded to had not been stationed at Aaron Sherritt's place by the Assistant Commissioner. During the last week of Mr. Nicolson's command in the North-Eastern district, and while scouring the ranges in the vicinity of Mrs. Byrne's hut, he had placed some men temporarily in Sherritt's house, but withdrew them prior to Mr. Hare's arrival. The organization of the but party properly speaking is due to Mr. Hare, and it proved a most disastrous failure.

18. We have not been slow to acknowledge Superintendent Hare's energy and promptitude upon receiving intelligence of Aaron Sherritt's murder, but the injudicious zeal of his friends provokes the criticism which he might otherwise be spared. Mr. Dixon gives him credit for extraordinary foresight in providing a pilot engine for the special which left Benalla for Beechworth on the night of the 27th of June, but a reference to Mr. Carrington's evidence shows that, prior to the starting of the train, it was generally known, or at least currently reported at Benalla, that the rails had been taken up. Under such circumstances what was more natural than that a pilot engine should be procured?


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