The Federation resolutions [NSW Parliament, 15 May 1890]

[Editor: This record of proceedings in the Legislative Assembly (NSW) of 14 May 1890 was published in The Australian Star (Sydney), 15 May 1890. It includes a report of George Dibbs’ “I have a dream” speech (7 August 1889).]

The Federation resolutions.

The debate upon the Federation resolutions was resumed by

Mr. DIBBS, who was received with Opposition cheers. He said the future student of the history of New South Wales would read with some degree of amusement that at the early conference, or perhaps he should say the late conference, on federation that there were certain words continually uttered. They were told by every speaker that there was a lion in the path, and he should have something to say as to what that particular lion was before he closed his address. He thought the student of history, on carefully perusing the speech of the Premier delivered the other night, would come to the conclusion that there was no lion in the path other than the lion standing in the way of the Colonial Secretary, and that was the ungenerous treatment the hon. member had given his political opponent on the opposite side of the House. (Opposition cheers.)

He (Mr. Dibbs) never approached the consideration of a subject with more seriousness in his life, and never felt more oppressed or anxious that in anything he might say there should be nothing of a personal character. He would have been delighted had the head of the Government, who desired to claim all the honor in connection with this question, shown the people and the members on the Opposition side of the House that example which his years and experience should have induced him to have shown. (Opposition cheers.)

He did not intend the words he was about to utter to be taken as a reply to the speech delivered upon this question by the Premier. They were not there in unfriendly debate, but they were engaged in a debate which would be handed down and last for all time; their words would be read and re-read by their children’s children. (Opposition cheers.)

And yet he failed to see what right the mover of the resolution had to make fully one-half of his speech an attack upon the leader of the Opposition. He had thought over in his mind whether he should say one word in reply to what the Premier had said in his attempt to vindicate the public wrong he had done by excluding the leader of their great party from the consideration of this question. But what the Premier had stated would become a matter of history, and if some denial was not given to it by him it would be assumed that the charge was made and sustained against him, and that he was powerless to reply. He would say again they stood there not on a party question. He would decline to treat it as a party question. (Opposition cheers.)

But if ever there was a national question which concerned the people — that section of the people, however large or small it might be — which differed entirely from the Premier had a right to be heard in this debate. (Opposition cheers.)

This was a question which affected the people of the country, and they would be heard — and they should be heard before any attempt was made on their part to destroy the free constitution under which they lived. (Opposition cheers.)

They could not take this preliminary step without the authority of the people. He should pass this by now, and would say something in vindication of the charge which had been made against him because he differed on certain lines from the views of the Premier on federation. He supposed they might he permitted to differ and yet be allowed to live. (Laughter.)

If the representatives to be sent to the convention were to be all of one mind — if they were to be the obedient servants of the Premier of this country, then they were not wanted there at all. (Opposition cheers.)

The Premier was a man who was able to state his views in any Assembly in the world; he had the ability and courage of his opinions, but the very attempt on his part to insult the large party on the Opposition side of the House by ignoring their leader was not showing that conciliation which would bring about federation. (Opposition cheers.)

He had read the hon. member’s speech at the conference and his reply, and to his idea the reply was the best of the two, but it contained personal and bitter feelings against a gentleman who represented the colony of South Australia, which would go a great deal towards preventing the hon. gentleman’s views from being carried out.

At this stage

Mr. HAWKEN rose amid the expressed dissent of both sides of the House and submitted as a point of order for Mr. Speaker’s decision that the resolutions before the House were not in order, inasmuch as they contemplated the formation of a Government which would be calculated to disturb and infringe the privileges of the House, and destroy the proper representation of the people of New South Wales as well as the constitution and the existing Government of the colony.

Mr. SPEAKER said even if the resolutions had the effect stated by the hon. member he had no hesitation in saying at once that the House had full power to pass them. (Cheers.)

Mr. DIBBS said he was about to say when interrupted that personally he accepted the omission of his name from the proposed convention as the highest compliment which could have been paid him, and he was inclined to think that his party would be disposed to accept it in the same light. (Opposition cheers.)

It was the clearest possible intimation from the Premier that he could not secure in him (Mr. Dibbs) anything but an independent representative of New South Wales. (Opposition cheers.) It was an intimation from the Premier that he knew well he (Mr. Dibbs) would not truckle or bend to any man in a matter in which the interests of New South Wales were concerned. (Opposition cheers.) The hon. the Premier, in making his selection of delegates, sought to choose men who would be willing to suit his purposes, and not stand up for New South Wales. (Opposition cheers.)

Now, he had dissected the Premier’s speech, and had divided it into some 12 parts. The first part of the speech was simply — as all would admit — Dibbs ad nauseam. Then came the desire for a federal rule, with a long account of the Canadian Dominion, the federation of the United States, a reference to the flag of this country, and the possible scare which would seize the people of New South Wales and induce them to rush into federation because of the Chinese — (laughter) — and the hon. member wound up with a most magnificent peroration to a very bad speech.

He listened to the hon. member’s speech with profound attention. He gave him his ears to the fullest extent, and he would like to know whether they were to take that speech, as the laying of the foundation stone of federated Australia. If the hon. member was not capable of supplying the House with sounder arguments than those which he had given in laying this foundation stone then all he could say was that the stone had been laid with very poor mortar indeed. (Opposition cheers.)

It was a speech which lacked the solid substance of the arguments required with regard to federation. They wanted here simple, solid, and sound commercial and political arguments as to why they should change from their present free constitution and adopt a proposal for federated Australia. He should clear himself at once by saying that he was in favor of federation. (Cheers.)

He had never been opposed to federation — (cheers) — and he would prove that to hon. members before resuming his seat. (Cheers.)

He held that as a representative of the people he had a perfect right to hold the freest possible opinions on any proposal in endeavoring to find out a sure and certain foundation on which Australia might become a nation. The difference between Sir Henry Parkes and himself was this. The Premier believed in a federation which he (Mr. Dibbs) believed would be incomplete and would never work. He (Mr. Dibbs) believed in founding an Australian nation. (Opposition cheers.)

He believed he spoke the mind of the people when he said if they were to part with their present constitution it should only be in order that they might have a flag of their own. (Opposition cheers.) There should be an United States of Australia. (Opposition cheers.) He held that his views on this subject were as worthy of consideration as the views of any hon. member of the House. (Cheers.)

He might be told that they were not ripe for separation from the mother country. He did not think they were, and he would not do anything to sever the tie with the old world. He had made no secret of the fact that this country had before it one of the grandest futures of any country in the world — (cheers) — but that future was to be in the creation of the United States of Australia. His ambition was that this country should become a nation. (Cheers.) The figures given by the Premier with regard to America formed the strongest proof in his mind that Australians were stronger to-day than the Americans were when they set up the flag of independence. (Cheers).

He contended that he had been unfairly dragged before the public, and therefore he had tresspassed upon the time of hon. members to make a defence. The hon. member, in his endeavor to justify the wrong he committed, brought forward certain quotations from his (Mr. Dibb’s) speeches on this question, but he did not think the hon. member would find much of his speeches in the Free-trade Press, for he had, unlike the hon. member, never been favored by a travelling reporter, and he considered that he had just reason to complain that the utterances of the leader of the great party to which he belonged had not been reported when he found it necessary to reply to speeches by the Premier, which had been fully reported. The hon. member must have set half of the staff of the Colonial Secretary’s Department to work to search all the country papers to find out what words of his (Mr. Dibbs) could be dragged into existence without the slightest regard to context to support the charge made against him.

Now, the hon. member for South Sydney (Mr. Traill) had been good enough to put into his hands clippings which were almost in one word a full and complete answer to the Premier by the Colonial Treasurer himself — (Opposition cheers) — and as far as he (Mr. Dibbs) was concerned he might say that the extracts rendered the Colonial Treasurer utterly unfit to pose as one of the delegates to the conference. He would, however, ask the House to say that the Treasurer had a perfect right to go there, however much he might differ with his chief.

The proposed change was to affect thousands of people in this country, and the people had a right to be represented at any convention which proposed to alter the constitution of the country. (Opposition cheers.) Their constitution was one of the greatest in the world. Its freedom had been obtained by the bitter struggles and conflicts of those who lived before we were born. They had given us this constitution, and before it could be destroyed those who differed from the Premier’s views had a right to be consulted. (Opposition cheers.)

When the Premier ran off to Queensland and commenced his preliminary canter with regard to federation one would have imagined his colleagues would have been consulted — that they would have been taken into his confidence. But he would challenge any one member of the Government to stand up in the House, or in any other place, and tell them that they were taken into the Premier’s confidence. The Premier was playing a lone hand. Mr. M’Millan was as much in the dark as he had been himself.

Mr. Traill had given him (Mr. Dibbs) a number of extracts from a speech which he made at Crookwell, and on comparing it with what Mr. M’Millan had said Mr. M’Millan’s speech read very much like his own. He (Mr. M’Millan) was reported to have said that “at present they were striking into lines unknown before. There was a strong feeling that some intimate union should exist between the Australian colonies, but they (New South Wales) must first decide what should be their fiscal system, for upon the fiscal system of New South Wales would depend the whole national life of Australia.” After saying that what right had Mr. M’Millan to go to Melbourne — (loud cheers) — when he went with the idea that there should be no federation except on the lines of Free-trade?

“What would federation be,” Mr. M’Millan went on to say, “unless there were an intimate blending among the people of the colony federated, and unless there were that blending together of the Australian life and people there would be no federation at all.” He (Mr. Dibbs) said hear hear again to that.

Mr. M’Millan had further said: “That one great difficulty was the fiscal separation which divided them from Victoria. The only means of bringing about that complete union which federationists desired would be to have a uniform tariff, but he did not think it would be on Protective lines. If federation meant a stifling of what had made New South Wales what she was then she would scout their proposed federation. (Loud and continued applause.)” (Opposition cheers.) Had the Colonial Treasurer now bound himself to vote according to what his chief might tell him? (Opposition cheers.)

Mr. M’Millan had said that it would be impossible for federation to be carried out on true principles unless there were an uniformity of tariffs. If there was any logic in the arguments of the Premier, if he did not sit condemned for being a political impostor, if he had not attempted to rouse the feelings of the Opposition side of the House, if he had not done an unfair, unfriendly, ungenerous, and unfederal act — (loud Opposition cheers) — then he had forgotten that his Treasurer, while he (the Premier) was away in Queensland, was running about Paddington giving forth the sentiments that he had read.

He (Mr. Dibbs) had happened to speak at Crookwell showing the right to criticise the actions of the Government. He brought federation before the audience, and he said he believed that Sir Henry Parkes had taken up this idea of federation for no other purpose than to cast dust in the eyes of the people, and endeavor to stem the rolling tide of Protection. He (Mr. Dibbs) spoke straight out, and said that this question of federation was raised to burk the fiscal issue, and in violation of the Ministerial pledge given to the House in last December. (Cheers.)

Mr. HASSALL: Which they are not game to carry out.

Mr. DIBBS: When the House met a fortnight ago they found the pledge of the Government had not been acted up to. He (Mr. Dibbs) had said that his party were as anxious as any to establish federation; but Protection should not be lost sight of. Was it generous for an opponent on a great national question to deliberately mislead the House. After what he (Mr. Dibbs) had said he could not come there as an honorable man for one moment and make a speech similar to that made last Wednesday night.

He (Mr. Dibbs) had said he was in favor of one united Australia, of one tariff law throughout; and the moment that had been accomplished a grand future would open and they would become one of the nations of the world. Was there any great difference between the utterances of the Colonial Treasurer and himself in regard to the question of federation? (Opposition cheers.)

The Protectionists, he had said, were equally anxious for federation, but not to sacrifice the cause of Protection. The Premier knew his views on the subject of a united Australia better than any other man in the world, and he had done him (Mr. Dibbs) the honor of publishing the speech which he (Mr. Dibbs) had made on the Western Australian question in a pamphlet, and had sent it broadcast to England, where it had been criticised and reviewed as indicating Australian feeling by every newspaper of note. He asked the most sanguine supporter of the Government whether the Premier was justified in attacking the leader of the Opposition ungenerously, when he ought to have sought the aid of every man on that side of the House. The Premier should have been generous to a fault. He was doubtful of the Premier being thoroughly genuine.

On the occasion of the West Australian Enabling Bill debate he (Mr. Dibbs) had said:

“If we ever enter into federation, or take united action in any way, we desire that New South Wales shall enter into conference with a State equal to ourselves in every respect. When I have attended inter-colonial conferences I have noticed the great difficulty occasioned by the presence of representatives of a Crown colony who took part in the debates of representatives of free colonies like New South Wales. (Hear, hear.) I differ entirely from the Premier in his dream as to what the future of Australia will be. I have a dream, and that dream is that there will be a different form of government in Australia to what there is to-day. The very necessities of our position — our large and rapidly increasing population throughout Australia — show that Australia will be in the eyes of the world a State as vigorous as the United States of America were in the past. I look forward to the day when that change of government will take place. There is no necessity to sever the ties which at present exist between ourselves and the mother country; but the necessities of our national life will cause us to spring forth from the position of a dependency on a great power to the position of an independent State. (Cheers.) We are as much federated with England as ever we can be. . . Australia is bound to be a nation separate and altogether free from the trammels any country, even the mother-country itself. We are willing to be the allies of England, we are willing to recognise that tie; but the day is not far distant when the whole of Australia will join together as one nation. These colonies will be separate and independent States, similar to that form of government which has been so successfully carried out in the United States of America. . . . . . The granting of a free Government to Western Australia will be a great and important event, to which I hope every man born in Australia will gladly look forward. Without any ill-feeling, or without any desire to break off immediately from the old country, we desire to have Australia for the Australians in every shape and form, in view of the inevitable, that at no distant date we shall become a nation as free as England itself. (Cheers).”

On that occasion his voice was raised clearly and distinctly that Australia should be bound and united as one, and when the time came that they did federate they must be a power which could be reckoned with in the world.

After this explanation he left that portion of the Premier’s speech as being unworthy to be put on the records of the House, and as unworthy of being a portion of the future history of the country. Turning to other portions of the Premier’s speech, had that hon. gentleman forgotten the great speech he delivered in 1884 — (cheers) — when there was a conference to bring about the federation of the colonies. He (Mr. Dibbs) was a member of that conference, and the Premier knew that he was acting for the Stuart Government when he moved the resolutions in that Chamber to bring about the Federal Council with a view to a more permanent federation.

The hon. the Premier delivered a speech in 1884 in opposition to the principles of federation, because, whatever was said about the Federal Council, that council was the stepping-stone to the great event which was to come on. In sitting at that council they all felt the difficulty which was brought prominently to the front by a question asked by Sir (then Mr.) Graham Berry, and that was, was Victoria prepared to bring her fiscal policy in accord with the other colonies? The answer was emphatically no. They felt that the lion which stood in their path in those days was the difference which existed upon the fiscal question between Victoria and New South Wales.

He remembered a speech made by Mr. Gillies at the gathering which took place on the banks of the Murray, when the rails between the colonies were joined, in which that gentleman, in a clear and calm manner, pointed out that this lion still stood in the path. Mr. Gillies, who was then Minister for Railways, said:— “A great many other things would have to be done before we could expect federation in anything like legislative form. One essential would be an understanding with reference to a Customs union,” That was the lion in the path, and it would have to be got rid of before this federation could take place.

The cry was get rid of the barriers; but there was a large party in South Australia who were strongly opposed to the destruction of these barriers, and there was a party in New South Wales who would fight to the death before they would allow Victoria to have the run of the New South Wales markets. (A Voice: “They have it now.”) Of course they had, but we were just on the eve of putting ourselves on all fours with Victoria. The Government had stolen the Protectionist plank in this matter.

The colony was now asked to enter into partnership with the other colonies, but before they did anything of the kind they wanted to know what the terms were to be. What were we to give up or surrender? The people of this colony intended to see that full justice was done to our youth and our farming interest before they allowed Victoria to come in the way proposed. (Opposition cheers.)

Leaving the federal lunatic asylum — (laughter) — out of the question, the Premier said the other night that our loans would be benefited by this. He would like to know what arrangements were to be made about the assets. (Opposition cheers.) Were the colonies to remain separate with separate assets at their credit? If so, where was the advantage to come in? He failed to see that the Premier had made any point with regard to this — (Opposition cheers) — or to show that we should have greater power to borrow. Were we to remain as a number of provinces with a Federal Parliament? He would like the Premier to say now whether the colony was to give up its lands and public works all for federation, and whether the assets of the colonies were to be federated or not? Was this colony going to hand its enormous assets over to Victoria? These things would have to be made clear before the people of this country would consent to any proposal. (Opposition cheers.)

If the colony was to give up all this the game would not be worth the candle — (Opposition cheers.) It was time for Parliament to consider whether in the convention to be held the Premier and the men who would support him were to act as the mouth piece of this colony — (Opposition cheers) — or whether the delegates should consist of men who would stand up for New South Wales. They wanted men who would represent New South Wales, and not dummies.

Under the federation proposed by the Premier the States of Australia would be placed in precisely the position in which America was during the 12 years following separation from the old country. Then, again, he would like to know what the standing army referred to by the Premier was wanted for. Was it wanted to coerce those States desirous of withdrawing after finding that they had made a bad bargain? He ventured to say no power would stop New South Wales from withdrawing if she found that she had made a bad bargain. Were they as a dependency under the Crown about to establish a standing army which might be turned against themselves? (Hear, hear.) In America it had cost L700, 000,000 sterling and 700,000 lives to keep the union. Union once established there was a nation which was bound to maintain it, even at that extraordinary expenditure of blood and money. Here we were to be under the Crown, and to have an army which we had nothing to do with, and the attempt to form the federation now proposed would be imperfect and useless, unless we bound ourselves as one nation in that union.

So for as the proposal of the Premier went at present, except as to the question of defence and the fiscal question, all the other big issues were left in the cold, and we should be just as much left separate from Victoria or Queensland under the proposed federation as now, with perhaps 10,000 more points to fight about than we had at present. The scheme proposed was partial. Ours would be a federation of everything common to each other. Boundaries might be altered, and such questions as railways, the land, education, and many others, would become matters common to the country. There was nothing at present to prevent the colonies coming to an agreement upon the various points mentioned in the Federal Council Bill, such as the Pacific question, the prevention of the influx of criminals — surely there might be common agreement about these. The fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits, but no question of that kind had ever risen, and was not likely to arise, owing to our supineness in the fisheries question. The enforcements of judgments, the custody of offenders, quarantine — all these matters proposed by the Federal Council Act could now be dealt with by letting fair and equitable conditions apply as between each colony. All those advantages could be obtained without federation.

The vast question of defence and alliance for defensive purposes might be dealt with by the respective colonies equally as well as if they federated to-morrow. This defence scare — what was it? It had arisen out of Major-General Edwards’ report, and an attempt had been made by the Premier on the strength of that report to terrorise the people of New South Wales and of Australia generally by raising the cry of fear of a Chinese invasion. (Laughter.) There should be a strong protest entered by the House against the issue by an English general of this report about the Chinese fleet. (Cheers.)

Mr. J. H. WANT: The fleet is laid up and useless now. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. DIBBS: In any case a fleet would be useless in the hands of the Chinese. (Hear, hear.) It was not worthy of an officer of a great nation that he should have written the letter he did to Sir Henry Parkes. If it came to defence the people of Australia would defend those shores against the whole Chinese nation. (Loud cheers.) The whole meaning of this letter to the Premier was that he had attempted by means of this letter to influence the votes of hon. members on the Opposition side of the House.

He was in favor of federation, but he did not believe the federation proposed by the Premier would be successful. He believed in another form of federation, which might be a long time off or closer than they were aware of — that federation of the whole of Australia when she would be one nation. (Loud cheers.)

In the meantime it would be better to leave well alone, better to remain in a state of dependency on England, but a free and independent State internally; better to endeavor to influence the colonies to bring into common form legislation in regard to the subjects he had mentioned, and for defence purposes, than to rush into the kind of federation proposed.

In conclusion, he believed he voiced the sentiments of the people generally in saying that our ambition, our aspiration, our hope, was to see the flag of the Southern Cross flying all over a United Australia, and Australia united as one grand nation. (Cheers.)

Mr. J. H. WANT was glad that the Premier had invited freedom of action, as he intended to offer his most strenuous opposition. (Cheers.) He did not intend in any way to make a personal attack, but he must approach the question from two standpoints.

First he proposed to show that the Premier’s speech was not worthy of attention — (hear, hear) — because there was nothing in it to support the arguments he had made. Then it was not genuine, and did not come from his heart. The reasons the Premier had given the other night were not the reasons which had induced him to bring the matter forward. Parliament had been in session up to almost last October, and up till then the House was left in complete darkness us to these proposals. Then the Premier went to a distant land, almost to “foreign parts,” and announced to the people there that he intended to bring about this great constitutional change.

It was an open secret — and the ominous silence on the Ministerial benches when they were challenged showed it to be true — that not one of the hon. member’s colleagues knew what was going to take place. If these federation proposals were to be made at all, if the Premier had given the matter the consideration it deserved, it ought to have been announced in the House, and not in another colony. He believed the Premier had never thought about the matter at all unless it was on board the steamer going to Brisbane — until he got the celebrated letter threatening the invasion of the Chinese fleet.

He quoted a speech of Sir Henry Parkes, made by him in 1884, when he resolutely opposed the whole federation idea. It was to him (Mr. Want) sublimely ridiculous that the Premier should now get up in the House and propose federation. To use the Premier’s own words used in the memorable speech of 1884, “Federation was in the air.”

Sir James Lee Steere had said at the recent convention in Melbourne that out of the mountain the mouse would come. That was what he (Mr. Want) thought would be the result now. The Premier had wantonly to the House misquoted a speech made by Mr. Deakin, Chief Secretary of Victoria. The Victorians would want to know before they pledged themselves to federation, what was to be the outcome, what return they were to get for it? That was, too, what New South Wales wanted to know. They were told that federation was to be on the lines adopted by the Canadian Dominion. Six years ago the Premier had said that the Canadian system was not a success.

Surely after all this Sir Henry Parkes would not be regarded as the paragon and ideal statesman that he had been in the years past? Why (Mr. Want asked) should New South Wales accept the Canadian system which the Premier had denounced as — and which in effect was — a miserable failure? In all the Premier’s latest speeches the prevailing passion was sentiment, and a miserable sentiment at that.

He (Mr. Want) then quoted a number of extracts from various speeches delivered by the Premier at different times, which, as they showed two distinctly opposite views, called forth loud Opposition laughter. The early part of the Premier’s latest speech contained no information whatever, and he (Mr. Want) listened carefully and attentively to the peroration which he had fondly hoped would contain some information. He then proceeded to contrast the peroration of the Premier’s latest speech and the peroration of the speech of 1884, which showed that the policy advocated on the different occasions were entirely at variance with each other.

It had been said that his (Mr. Want’s) speech was a lawyer’s one. Well, was he not right to show those who were carried away by the outburst of oratory last Wednesday night that six years ago the Premier had uttered, in an even more brilliant speech, the most fiercely antagonistic ideas?

He would like to know what the Premier and Treasurer meant by saying in Melbourne that they would adopt a certain kind of Protection should it be demanded by the federating colonies. (Loud Opposition cheers.) The Treasurer said at the conference he would favor Free-trade among the colonies, and Protection against the world in the event of federation being brought about. (Opposition cheers.) The Premier and Treasurer had expressed their willingness to give way on their Free-trade principles, which they had worked so hard for, in order to introduce the bantling federation. If there was to be federation let it come fair and square.

Canada and the United States had federated when there was danger threatening, and it would be time enough for Australia to federate when danger threatened. (No, no.) Yes (continued Mr. Want), the only federation wanted was that of defence.

He concluded with a strong denunciation of the federation proposals as put forward by the Premier.

Mr. WILKINSON next caught the Speaker’s eye. The Opposition called aloud for a Minister, but one not coming forward the greater part of them left the House.

Mr. ALEXANDER BROWN, in a few words, gave the history of the union of the United States of America. Hamilton, one of the great men of that time, was, unlike Sir Henry Parkes in the present time, undismayed by any opposition, but fought his opponents manfully, even though as a matter of fact his strongest opponents were delegates from his own State. If the Premier was sincere he should have taken the leader of the Opposition to the next convention with him. The leader of the Opposition was opposed to the Premier, and it would, therefore, have been a manly act on the Premier’s part to have had his political opponent a member of the convention. But Hamilton was a great statesman, which may have made the difference.

The Premier complains that he has been misrepresented. The Premier had said, “If ever I was earnest in my life.” Did he imply that the Premier doubted his own earnestness? Surely, after expressing so much doubt in his (the Premier’s) sincerity, there was no wonder that the Opposition doubted.

He (Mr. Brown) had always regarded the Premier as a great statesman and something of an orator; but his speech on Wednesday night was decidedly hollow and impotent. The whole of the arguments could have been spoken in 10 minutes. The remaining 70 minutes had been occupied in platitudes and claptrap.

Should federation come the railways would have to go to the Federal Parliament, and what was the colony to have in return? It was his intention to oppose the resolutions.

The debate was then adjourned until the following day, on the motion of Mr. Ewing.

The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW), 15 May 1890, p. 3

See also:
The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), 15 May 1890, p. 3

Editor’s notes:
ad nauseam = (Latin; literally “to sickness”) regarding something which has been done so often that observers have become sick of it (especially used regarding someone who has been speaking at length on the same subject); regarding something which has been done, or said, so much, or so often, as to become annoying or tiresome, a reference to the idea that such excessive annoyance would supposedly cause sickness or nausea (sometimes misspelt as “ad nauseum”, with the common Latin ending of “-um”)

bantling = a young child; a brat

burk = cover-up, smother, suppress (also spelt “burke”)

Crown colony = a colony ruled by a representative of the British Crown, i.e. ruled by a Governor acting under instructions of the British Government (distinct from a “free colony” which has “responsible government”, i.e. a “free colony” ruled by a parliament elected by British colonists)

Dibbs = Sir George Dibbs (1834-1904), a politician who was Premier of New South Wales three times (1885, 1889, 1891-1894)

Free-trade = (also rendered as “Free Trade”) in economics, a belief in not having tariff barriers, or any other protective measures, so as to enable the free flow of goods into a country, state, or colony (however, some “Free Trade” governments may use a limited amount of tariff barriers or other protective measures)

Graham Berry = (1822-1904) English-born Victorian politician; Premier of Victoria (1875, 1877-1880, 1880-1881)

Hamilton = Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), the first Secretary of the Treasury of the USA

hon. = an abbreviation of “honourable”, especially used as a style to refer to government ministers, or as a courtesy to members of parliament (as a style, it is commonly capitalised, e.g. “the Hon. Member”)

House = in the context of an Australian colonial or state parliament, the Legislative Assembly (the House of Assembly); in the context of the Australian federal parliament, the House of Representatives

L = an abbreviation used to represent the “pound” monetary unit (i.e. the British-style currency denomination used in Australia, prior to the decimalisation of Australia’s currency on 14 February 1966); the abbreviation stems from the Latin “librae” (or “libra”, a basic unit of weight used in ancient Rome; from the Latin “libra” for “scales” or “balance”); pounds were commonly symbolized by a pound sign “£” (a stylized “L”) or by “L” (or “l”)

left in the cold = not dealt with; left out, not included (also rendered as “left out in the cold”)

lion in the path = an imagined, over-emphasised, or exaggerated obstacle; derived from a passage in the Bible, “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets” (Proverbs 26:13, King James version); however, sometimes the phrase has been used to refer to an actual problematic obstacle

mother country = in a historical Australian context, Great Britain; may also refer to England specifically (may also be hyphenated, i.e. mother-country)

Paddington = a suburb of Sydney (New South Wales)

paragon = someone or something regarded as a model of excellence or perfection (e.g. someone who is regarded as “a paragon of virtue”)

peroration = the concluding part of a speech, especially regarding its use to inspire enthusiasm, or its use to sum up an argument (may also refer to a speech which is regarded as too long or overly rhetorical)

plank = part of a platform or programme, especially a part of a political platform; a policy

Protection = Protectionism; in economics, a belief in using tariff barriers, and sometimes other protective measures, so as to protect the industries and workforce of a country, state, or colony

steamer = a steam-powered ship or train

Stuart = Alexander Stuart (1824-1886) a Scottish-born politician who was Premier of New South Wales (1883-1885)

supine = lying down on one’s back, lying down face upwards; showing apathy, indolence, inertia, laziness, or passivity; not acting due to moral weakness or moral slackness

trammel = an impediment or restraint which hinders or restricts activity, expression, freedom of action, development, movement, or progress (may also refer to a type of shackle for a horse, or to a type of fishing net)

tresspassed = archaic spelling of “trespassed”

[Editor: Changed “ad nauseum” to “ad nauseam”; “might be be told” to “might be told”, “was to effect” to “was to affect”; “to come in in the way” to “to come in the way”; “desirious” to “desirous”; “against themselves.” to “against themselves?”.]

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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