Royal Commission report day 4 page 1

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The Royal Commission evidence for 29/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 4)

Assistant Commissioner Nicholson giving evidence


Present: Hon. F. LONGMORE, M.L.A., in the Chair;

J. H. Graves, Esq., M.L.A., G. W. Hall, Esq., M.L.A.,

G. R. Fincham, Esq., M.L.A., W Anderson, Esq., M.L.A.,

James Gibb, Esq., M.L.A., G. C. Levey, Esq., C.M.G.

The Witness. -I wish to be allowed to supplement my evidence by a few remarks, which will take a very little time-a few facts which will take a very short time to put in.

916 By the Commission. -You had better go on then?- I wish to state that the interference with me in the North Eastern district, on the part of Captain Standish, that I alluded to, worried and crippled me considerably, and also the two officers who were with me.

917 Crippled their action also?- Yes.

918 Who were they?- Superintendent Sadleir and Sub Inspector O'Connor of the Queensland police; but I never allowed it to interfere with my work. As an instance, when I received from time to time several orders to withdraw the cave party, I did not do so. On my own responsibility I took that course. When objection was made to the employment of Aaron Sherritt by Captain Standish, I discussed matter the him. At the same time I continued to employ Sherritt, although I at last received an actual order from Captain Standish, saying he insisted upon my ceasing to do so. He said he was untrustworthy, and so on.

919 It was the first time you have stated that Captain Standish instructed you to discharge Sherritt?- Yes. I kept Sherritt on, on my own responsibility, and paid him out of my own pocket for the time being, from time to time, whether I got the Government to recoup me or not, until the day I left.

920 Did you get that account disbursed again?- Yes, I did get paid without any difficulty. As to the repayment, I had never any difficulty in getting it in Melbourne. I considered, and I maintained, that I was the best judge on the spot as to whom I should employ and whom I should not employ, and that it was impossible for Captain Standish, or any person sitting on a chair in Melbourne, to judge or dictate to me, with all the responsibility that was thrown upon me, in what I was doing up there, whom I should employ and whom I should not.

921 Were those the only two instances he interfered with you?- There was a spirit the whole time pervading that way; in fact, for months before I was withdrawn I had the consciousness that there was some mischief brewing.

922 You felt there was mischief brewing against you for months before you were withdrawn?- Yes. I charged Captain Standish on one occasion, at Benalla, with exhibiting my confidential letters to him to Mr. Hare at the depot. His reply was to the effect that he considered he had a right to do with the letters be received what he liked; consequently, I was very guarded in my communications to him. During this time I maintained courteous relations with Captain Standish, and outwardly there was no exhibition of feeling on my part, at any rate, towards him. When I, in April, received notice in his office, in a very curt manner, that I was to be superseded, then seeing that the public service was being sacrificed and all the labor of years was to be sacrificed-

923 That was nearly two years after?- Yes. I was saying it was only then that I expressed indignation to the Chief Commissioner of Police.

924 That was in 1879?- No, in April 1880.

925 That was when you got the month's notice?- When I first was informed, and called down to town, and I warned him of the disaster that would ensue.

926 Was it all verbal?- Verbal; but I will give you more of it. I then insisted upon having an interview with the Honorable the Chief Secretary.

927 That was Mr. Ramsay?- Yes

928 He had only just taken office then?- He had just taken office. This was on the Saturday..

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