The Argus at KellyGang 29/6/1880 (2)

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Immediately after the present Ministry were settled in office the Chief Secretary, Mr Ramsay, in consultation with Mr Service, made a special investigation into the conduct of the police in connexion with the Kelly outrages. Several interviews were held with Captain Standish, the chief commissioner. Mr Ramsay pointed out the length of time that had elapsed since the first outbreak had occurred, and intimated that unless a more effectual search for the outlaws took place it would be his duty to see that there was an immediate reorganisation of the police force. Various changes were made, and movements adopted which were confidentially communicated to the press, but which it was not thought advisable in the interests of justice to make public. Among other recommendations that were adopted was the determination to withdraw the reward offered for info rmation unless the Kellys were captured within a certain time, and there is no doubt that from what has since transpired this resolution has operated with good effect. When Superintendent Hare went to take charge of the Beechworth district he received orders from Mr Ramsay that the department routine must be set aside altogether, and that he was at liberty to pick his men and to make whatever arrangements he thought proper without interference from Melbourne , and that his expenses were not to be questioned by the department. In this way a great amount of energy has been latterly thrown into the search, and gradually the gang became aware that they were closely followed. Important info rmation has, in fact, been in the hands of the police for some days past, and an outbreak in some direction was anticipated. News of the Beechworth outrage reached Melbourne on Sunday evening, and it was immediately communicated to the Chief Secretary. He found that the police did not purpose to start for the scene of the occurrence until the ordinary train on Monday morning, and he at once ordered a special train to start as early as possible on Sunday evening. It is now perfectly obvious that had this step not been taken, the old tale would have been repeated of another outrage and another disappearance of the gang. When the special arrived at Benalla, Superintendent Hare recommended that a pilot engine should be sent in front, as he apprehended the bushrangers would endeavour to rip up the track, and this suggestion was acted upon. During yesterday morning Mr Ramsay communicated with Colonel Anderson, and made the suggestion that cannon should be sent up to batter down the house. He also telegraphed to Superintendent Hare―“Is it possible to construct a bullet-proof shield or screen of deals backed with hardwood? This mounted on a dray might enable the men to approach the house.”

As the day wore on, and it was doubtful whether the gang would be dislodged before dark, the Chief Secretary sent for Mr Ellery, and asked him if he could proceed to Glenrowan by special train with the electric light, so as to prevent the escape of the murderers. Mr Ellery said that means could not be adopted in time to procure the light, and he also said that the light is so vivid and direct that it throws dark shadows, and probably would enable the bushrangers to escape rather than assist in effecting their capture. He recommended that bonfires should be made round the building, which would lighten the space between them and it. This suggestion was also telegraphed to the officer in command.

Captain Standish was also directed by Mr Ramsay to proceed by special train with medical assistance, and Dr Chas Ryan was selected by the Chief Secretary to accompany Captain Standish on account of his experience in gunshot wounds, gained at the siege of Plevna and elsewhere.

When the first news was received Mr Ramsay telegraphed to Superintendent Hare on behalf of the Government, thanking him most heartily for his services, and requesting him in his name and on behalf of the Ministry to communicate his thanks to the men under his command.

It has been known for some time past that the Queensland black trackers were under orders to leave the colony, and that they were to have departed to-day. Mr Ramsay telegraphed last week to the Queensland Chief Secretary, asking that they might be allowed to stop some short time longer, but Mr Palmer refused. On Sunday, after the intelligence of the outbreak, Mr Ramsay telegraphed again, pointing out the importance of the men being allowed to remain and assist in the search, and Mr Palmer gave his consent. Yesterday Mr Palmer sent this further telegram:―

“I replied hastily to your telegram last night, authorising you to detain O’Connor and the native troopers, and feel bound to say that, although O’Connor has never officially reported the fact, it has been stated by Queenslanders who have been in Victoria that a general impression exists, both there and here, that a considerable amount of jealousy is felt by the Victorian police towards our men. I can assure you that unless our troopers, with their officers, are allowed to go to the front at once, there will be little use calling upon them to do so after the white police have effaced the tracks.―H. S. PALMER.”

It may be mentioned that Superintendent Chomley is now in Queensland , having been sent there by Mr Ramsay to obtain black trackers to take the place of the men about to be withdrawn. Some inquiry into the cause of the discontent between the Queensland police and our own seems to be necessary.

Mr Ramsay received the following telegram from the Premier of New South Wales:―

“Great satisfaction in prospect of the complete destruction of the Kelly gang. Congratulate your Government.―H. S. PARKES.”

To this a suitable reply was sent.




The news of the re-appearance of the Kelly gang, and the encounter with the police at Glenrowan, caused considerable excitement here to-day, and political matters were temporarily lost sight of. The local newspapers published extraordinaries at intervals during the afternoon, describing the progress of the siege. The demand for these was constant; the news was read with the utmost eagerness, and large numbers of persons awaited impatiently the arrival of further telegrams. The greatest satisfaction was expressed on all hands at the capture of the gang, though some regret was felt that they could not all have been taken alive.


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