The Argus at KellyGang 19/10/1881 (8)

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Royal commission second report comment

23. It must be borne in mind, too, that Mr Hare's personal quarrel with Inspector O'Connor led up to the latter officer's unfortunate complications with Captain Standish , the favouritism exhibited towards him by the chief commissioner was the cause of jealousy and dissension amongst the officers. And it is only fair to conclude that Superintendent Hare has been for many years a disturbing element in the force, and that his withdrawal from the service has become a matter of public necessity.

21. We have no desire to act unkindly to- wards Superintendent Hare. We regret deeply that, in justice to ourselves and in explanation of our action, we should be compelled thus to refer to matters that otherwise had better be buried in oblivion. The ser- vices rendered, and the injury sustained by Superintendent Hare, have not been lost sight of, and, while declaring his immediate retirement from the force as indispensably necessary, the commissioners have treated him, we consider, in connexion with the re- commendation submitted to your Excellency, with the greatest possible liberality.




The board appointed to inquire into the condition and management of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Station appears to be divided into two sections. This state of affairs has been brought about by a variety of causes which it is unnecessary here to specify. Suffice it to say that the inquiry was commenced last week, when Mr E H Cameron MLA, the chairman, and Messrs G De Pury, Thos Armstrong, and John Kerr, members of the board, visited the station with a Government shorthand writer, and took a quantity of evidence in the regular way, and that on Monday last Mrs Bon, of Kew, Mr Dow, MLA, Dr Embling, and other members inspected the station, and examined witnesses on their own account. The latter were joined during the day by Mr Kerr. Mr D M'Nab, the remaining member of the board, was not present with either party, having sent in his resignation. As, however, his resignation has not yet been accepted, he may sit at future meetings of the board.

The appointment of the board was chiefly due to the importunities of Mrs Bon, a staunch friend of the blacks and an enthusiastic supporter of their rights. A representative of The Argus was invited to accompany Mrs Bon's party, and did so. Leaving town on Sunday morning, this party arrived that night at Healesville. Early on Monday morning, they drove to the aboriginal station, and proceeded at once with their work. Their visit had evidently been expected, for the children were found dressed in their best clothes, and the men on seeing the cab arrive, and knowing who the occupants were, immediately left their employment in the hop fields, and marched up to the village in a body, returning no more to work that day. The Rev F P Strickland, the superintendent, placed him-self at the service of the members of the board, but was informed that they desired in the first place to inspect the houses and huts by themselves. Every inhabited building was then visited, and the occupants were asked to state their grievances. It was found that considerable improvements had been effected on a number of cottages within the last few months. The blacks averred that this was the result of their deputation to the Chief Secretary on the 29th of March last, but we are informed that the contracts for these improvements were signed before that date. A new kitchen and a wash house had also been erected. The improvements to the cottages consist of two additional rooms, one being intended to answer as a kitchen, and the other as a bedroom. These tenements consequently consist now of a sitting and dining room, two bedrooms, and a kitchen. In some instances the badly ventilated bedrooms still existed and it was observed that this defect was caused through the attempts of the occupants to make their places cosy by keeping out the draughts, which they said are so strong sometimes as to blow candles out.

Notes were taken of the fact that the Government supply the blacks with no furniture, and that what furniture they possess has been bought out of their meat money, or very rough articles made by their own hands. All the adults - male and female - complained that they did not get enough rations, yet they all looked remarkably well fed. It transpired, however, that most of them were in debt to the butcher and it was found that on that day they had all, with two exceptions, to dine on dry bread and tea. One had a piece of native bear, and another the remnants of a wallaby.

All the milk they could get, they said, was half a cup for the children in the morning and they bad no butter. During the previous two weeks they had been suppled with potatoes, but they had seen no vegetables of any kind for a long time before. Their regular rations consist of flour, tea, and sugar, and rice and sago are given when asked for. On the hop field the able bodied men earn from 3d to 4d per hour according to the number of their family, and out of this they have to buy their meat. The old men receive meat free of charge, but they complain of short weight, and there appeared to be no check upon the butchers in regard either to the quantity or quality of the meat they supply. The mattresses and bedding were, as a rule, dirty, and of poor quality. With regard to clothing there was au universal complaint that in it there was also an insufficient supply.

The men looked comfortable in their strong boots, moleskins, and blue jackets, but the women seemed thinly attired in very cheap fabrics. Some of the latter were barefooted, and in answer to rather leading questions they said that they had to save their boots as they bad only one pair in a year, yet their first answer to the question, "Where are your boots' ' was "Me no like wear them." The children were all barefooted.


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