Representative Government

In 1842,  meeting was held in Sydney to petition for representative government. The British Parliament saw its way clear to concede this privilege, and in July 1843, the first representatives elected by the people assembled in Sydney. The new Council consisted of 36 members: of whom 12 were either officials, or persons nominated by the Governor; the other 24 were elective- 18 being chosen by the people of New South Wales Proper and 6 by those of Port Phillip. It was the duty of this body to consult with the Governor and to see that the legitimate wishes of the people were attended to. Six men were elected for Port Phillip; but residents of Melbourne found it impossible to leave their business and go to live in Sydney. The people of Port Phillip were therefore force to elect Sydney men to take charge of their interests. However , these men did their duty excellently. Dr Lang was especially active in the interests of his constituents and in the second session of the Council, during the year 1844, he moved that a petition should be presented to the Queen Victoria, praying that the Porth Phillip district should be separated from New South Wales. and formed into an independent colony. The Port Phillip representatives, together with the now famous Robert Lowe, gave their support to the motion. Unfortunately there were 19 who voted against it and it was though the effort was in vain. But Dr Lang drew up a petition of his own, which was signed by all of the Port Phillip members and sent to England. Nothing further was heard on the subject for some time, until Sir George Gipps received a letter from Lord Stanley, the Secretary of the State, directing him to lay the matter before the Executive Council in Sydney and stating that, in the opinion of the English Government, the request of Port Phillip was very fair and reasonable. An inquiry was held, the Sydney Council sent to England a report on the subject and received a reply to the effect that steps at once would be taken to obtain from the Imperial Parliament the required Act.

The people of Port Phillip were overjoyed and in 1846 gave a grand banquet to Dr Lang to celebrate the occassion. But they were not destined to quite a speedy conclusion to their request. The English Government (Conservative) which had given so favourably an ear to their petition were defeated and succeeded by another government (Liberals), to whom the whole question was new. Year after year passed away and the people of Port Phillip began to grow impatient and complain loudly of their grievances. First of all they complained that, although it was a well recognized principle that money received by Government for the waste lands of any district should be used to bring out emigrants to that district, yet the SYdney Government used much of the money obtained from the sale of land in Port Phillip for the purpose of bringing out new colonists - not to Melbourne or Geelong, but to Sydney itself. And thus, it was said, the people of Sydney were using the money of the Port Phillip district for their own advantage. Upwards of £180 000 are said to have been abstracted in this manner from the Port phillip district during the first six years of its existence and used for the purpose of promoting emigration to Sydney. And, again the people of Melbourne complained that , although they were allowed to elect 6 members of the Legislative Council, yet this was merely a mockery, because none of the Port Phillip residents could afford to live in Sydney for five months every year and to neglect their own private business.

 

History of Australia