The Argus at KellyGang 28/2/1879 (2)
Taking into consideration the whole concomitances of the case, the course the Government would tale if it were actuated solely by patriotic motives is plain. It would call Parliament together for a session of a day or two, and suspend the night of habeas corpus over a defined area of the colony, taking power at the same time to suspend it by proclamation outside the limits named, should the movements of the outlaws render such a step desirable. We should also like to see the valuable idea of our correspondent carried out, who suggested some time ago the wisdom of obtaining Parliamentary sanction to the outlawry of whole districts under certain conditions. There can be very little doubt that throughout the country to the north east the sympathisers with the Kelly gang absolutely swarm. These men could not complain of such a punishment, while the respectable portion of the population would suffer inconvenience justly, owing to their want of energy in bringing the offenders to justice.
The duty of assisting to preserve the QUEEN'S peace, and bringing criminals to justice, is a common law obligation resting on every one. Neglect of so important a matter should not go unwhipt of justice. It was suggested that the effect of the proposed territorial outlawry should be deprivation of arms, ammunition, and horses, within the boundaries set forth. This would not only deprive the bushrangers and their assistants of the means of carrying on their operations with ease and success, but would also put such a personal pressure on the well affected, as would, in all probability, speedily lead to the capture of the delinquents.
It is not probable, however, that Ministers will care to meet Parliament before Mr BERRY 'S return. They would find themselves so helplessly at sea without him if questions arose outside the immediate business for which the Houses had been summoned, that they are perhaps wise, in a personal sense, to regard discretion as the better part of valour. But are we, in the absence of proper arrangements, to see the gaols emptied of the murderers' friends, whose detention is necessary in the interests of justice and the public safety? We trust not. This is a case in which the Executive should exercise a wide discretion, and be ready to assume a heavy responsibility. If it should be thought advisable to re-arrest the men set free, or to take any others into custody as accomplices before the Kelly gang is captured, let the Acting Chief Secretary direct the police to hold them in safe keeping, but not to bring them up at any court of petty sessions.
If they sue out writs of habeas corpus, and obtain their release, re-arrest them immediately, and give them the option of taking things quietly, or of repeating the same operation. When Parliament meets, let the first thing asked for be an act of in demnity, and we venture to say that there is not a sensible, law abiding, peace desiring man in the colony who would not give his voice and vote in favour of granting it at once, no matter what party he may belong to. No doubt this would be a high handed pro ceeding, but it would be one of those arbitrary courses which are sometimes essential to the existence of real liberty. When the freedom and property of quiet and respectable people are endangered by the immunity enjoyed by scoundrels, under the forms of law, common sense and social interests require that the convenience of the Isaiah Wrights should be subordinated to the well being of the decent portion of the community.
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