Election of Earl Grey

Non Election Party

For a year or two the English Government forgot all about the separation question and in 1848, the weariest colonists determined to call attention to their discontent. Accordingly, when the elections for that year approached , they determined not to elect any memner, so that the English Government might see how little use to them their supposed privilege really was. It was agreed that no one should come forward for election and it seemed likely that there would be no election whatever, when a gentleman named Foster offered himself as a candidate. This placed the non-election party in a dilemma; for if they declined to vote at all, and if Mr Foster could persuade only two or three of his friends to vote for him, then, since there was no other candidate, he would be legally elected (oh dear).

Problem Solved

Now, at this time Earl Grey was Secretary of State for the colonies ; and when someone proposed to nominate him for election in opposition to Mr Foster, the idea was hailed as a happy one. The non-election party could then vote for Earl Grey, and he would be returned by a large majority. But Earl Grey, being an English nobleman and a member of the British Government, would certainly never go to Sydney to attend a small Colonial Council, so that there would be in reality no member elected. But the attention of the secretary of State would be drawn to the desires of the district.

Separation Approved

Earl Grey was triumphantly elected and when the news went home to England it caused some merriment. He was jokingly asked in the House of the Lords when he would sail for Sydney and for several weeks he underwent so much banter on the subject that his attention was fully aroused to the long neglected question. He weighed the matter carefully and resolving to do the people of Port Phillip full justice, sent out word that he would at once prepare a Bill for the Imperial Parliament, in order to obtain the necessay powers; and he also intimated that Queen Victoria would be pleased if the new colony should adopt her name. Nothing could give the colonists more satisfaction and they waited with patience until the affairs could be properly arranged in England.

 

History of Australia