The Argus at KellyGang 18/4/1879
MR ORR AT WANGARATTA
[BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH]
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT)
Mr Orr, one of the representatives of the electoral district of Moira addressed a number of his constituents at St Georges Hall, Wangaratta, this evening. There were close upon 200 people present and Mr Wm Orr, the mayor of the borough, occupied the chair. The proceedings were of the quietest character.
Mr ORR said that when elected he did not bind himself to any party, but presented himself to the constituency as an independent member. He had told them he did rot intend to support the whole Opposition programme, and immediately afterwards a change of Ministry took place and Mr Berry came into power. Before Parliament met, the principles he had announced were as nearly as possible those of the Berry Government. He therefore felt it his duty to take seat under them and he would take a cursory view of their proceedings. The Land Tax was one of the first measures carried during the session; but although it had not been quite successful in its purpose in adding materially to the revenue Ministers could not be much blamed for that. It was a new measure in which many things were difficult of definition. Still, it was the thin end of the wedge, and was better than all the penal legislation that could be carried for tie purpose of keeping the lands in the hands of bona fide selectors. The great question now was that of constitutional reform. That had not been actually before the country at the last election in its a present form. Then general principles only had been announced but one principle had been clearly decided by the country, namely, that an alteration was necessary which would prevent deadlocks and that in matters of general legislation there should be some definite term when the wishes of the people of the country should by carried out in spite of the opinions of the Upper House. But he by no means agreed with all the actions of the Ministry; he felt humiliated by the sending of an embassy to England . He believed if Mr Berry had waited a week or two longer they could have settled their own affairs without any appeal to the Home Government. As to Black Wednesday, although he did not approve altogether of the action of the Ministry he thought it was forced on them by the action of the Opposition. The Upper House threw out the Appropriation Bill and left the Government in point of fact insolvent. They were therefore obliged to curtail their expenses and he fully endorsed what they did on that day. (Several Voices - "Oh, oh!" )
But when the Council passed the Appropriation Bill, he thought the action of the Government in not reinstating the whole of the civil servants was open to the gravest censure. They could afterwards have proceeded to the reduction of the civil service in a legitimate and systematic manner. As it was the course taken by the Government had demoralised the whole service. He had heard a great deal of the want of legislative ability in the present Ministry. He thought they had quite as much of that as their opponents, although they had never been allowed on opportunity of displaying it but he feared some of them were deficient in administrative ability. For instance Mr Longmore although earnestly desirous to do his duty by the selectors, possessed a mind not of the strongest cast, and was easily carried away by a mind stronger or weaker than his own. He provoked an adverse decision in the Supreme Court in the matter of one of his regulations as to a lease not being security to a creditor, and he had issued a fresh regulation since that to meet that decision, which regulation he (Mr Orr) hoped Mr Longmore would see his way to recall. His action as to removing the presidents of shire councils from the land boards in this district was also a mistake. With respect to the Railway department, he strongly objected to Mr Woods administration, especially in reference to the North Eastern line which, through the Minister favoring a few Sydney and Melbourne merchants, was now practically left with only one train a day. Mr Woods' action in putting on men to work on the Sunday at the Gipps Land railway terminus was totally unnecessary and was therefore an outrage. There were many matters objectionable in the administration of the Railway department, with which Mr Woods' colleagues were by no means satisfied, and when the accounts came to be examined if such a thing were possible, he feared it would be found that many thousands of pounds had been frittered away. The speaker then answered a few questions and concluded.
Mr R D REID, M L C , who was present, and was called upon, in a few words defended the action of the Council in rejecting Mr Berry 's Reform Bill, which he said was equivalent to the abolition of the Upper House.
After votes of thanks to Mr Orr and to the chairman the meeting dissolved.
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