The Argus at KellyGang 27/2/1879

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Public opinion has entirely endorsed the prompt action of the New South Wales Government in offering a reward for the capture of the Kellys, and in proposing that the police of the two colonies should co operate for the capture of the gang. For altogether apart from the fact that one bank robbery has been committed in this colony, and that others might follow, it is to our interest as such as yours that this bushranging excitement should cease as soon as possible. Even in districts where the Kellys are not known they find admirers and sympathisers, and there is always a danger lest the continued impunity of any one gang should give use to the formation of a second Cattle-stealers quickly degenerate into bandits, and we have still plenty of that class in the colony.

A well known name in connexion with our own bushranging history has been prominently brought before the public during the last week, Ben Hall was at one time the terror of the colony. Two members of the same family, name, and lineage were indicted for horsestealing, and the jury system practically broke down. The counsel for the prisoner exercised the right of challenge most unmercifully, no fewer than 56 persons on the list being told to stand aside. A person who was in court told me that the scene was even ludicrous. People were not challenged on the ground of any personal knowledge. They were called up one after another, and if they looked respectable they were challenged. A jury was at last formed out of the unobjectionable remnant, but could not agree, and, after being sufficiently locked up, were discharged.

The Assembly has renewed the Outlawry Act. The Crown Law officers had some hesitation over the new clause that was necessary to meet the case. In our old act and in your act, which is substantially a copy of it, men were outlawed for capital crimes committed within the colony. But we have now outlawed men for crimes committed outside our jurisdiction. This is a novelty, but it is one to which all the colonial Governments will have to give their adhesion if the occasion requires it. Three or four members objected to this extension of the criminal law, but the common sense of the House overruled the objection. It was urged, and quite fairly, that the measure was wanted on our own part simply to discourage the men from entering our territory-that if it was right they should be outlawed in Victoria, it was right they should have no more mercy in New South Wales, and that it was absurd to look upon a mere frontier line as so separating jurisdictions that a criminal hunted out of one colony should he tempted to find harbour in another. The large majority by which the bill was passed, and the promptness with which our Govern ment has acted, will, it is hoped, satisfy the Kellys and then friends that they will find short shrift north of the Murray.





The Outlawry Bill was passed through all its stages in the Council, the standing orders having been suspended for the purpose.    

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