The Argus at KellyGang 17/6/1881

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(full text transcription)

The Police Commission yesterday finished taking evidence on the point as to the advisability of appointing Mr O'Connor to the position of inspector of police in the North- eastern district. They will probably proceed to draw up a progress report on that subject next week.



Sir,-One unexpected effect of the Police Commission Inquiry has been vexatious depreciation of country properties. Unthinking capitalists are scared by such evidence as that there is danger of the organisation of another Kelly gang in Greta or its neighbourhood, and property is stated to be insecure in consequence. There is no sense in such statements, or the belief in them. Lately I see two country papers state that a Melbourne investor on land loans was deterred from lending on such reports to the disappointment of landholders whose properties he was to have visited and lent out although their land was good and improvements ample. No doubt the Kelly family and their friends were a bad lot but the very great majority of the residents there and in the miscalled "Kelly country" are respectable law abiding people, and no one, except the police believe that theirs is any likelihood of a second Kelly gang rising. Such a belief insures them better chances of higher pay, and is for them a comfortable belief, but after reading their evidence in the Police Inquiry Commission, I am not led by it and no sensible man is.

If farmers' horses, cattle &c, were often stolen in these localities they might be called unsafe but there are no such thefts and the very worst characters don't run away with the land. The Kelly gang consisted of men evading the police to escape long terms of imprisonment, to which they were liable for crimes already committed. Their case was very different from that of free men who would take to the bush to begin a career of crime. Instances of thoughtless lads having done so are known and may occur again, but they are as likely to begin anywhere else as in the "Kelly country." As a matter of fact, the Kelly depredations were in distant places. They did not rob their neighbours. I have lived through the whole time the gang were at large, near some hills they were said to frequent. Neither I nor my neighbours ever saw one of them, nor did they cause us any anxiety, or steal any of our properly. - Yours, &c., June 6.


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