Page:The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.djvu/219

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DICTIONARY OF AUSTRALASIAN BIOGRAPHY.

and they also succeeded in carrying a Licensing Act, which embodied the principle of local option without compensation. Sir Samuel followed the policy of his predecessor in reference to Australian Federation, and was a prominent member of the Convention which met at Sydney in 1883; the drafting of the Federal Council Bill, which ultimately passed the Imperial Parliament, being confided to his hands. When the Federal Council held its first sitting at Hobart, Sir Samuel was appointed first Chairman of the Standing Committee, and was subsequently elected President. During the Queensland parliamentary session of 1886 Sir Samuel passed an Act which codified the entire body of law relating to the duties and powers of justices of the peace. His Offenders' Probation Act was also a piece of advanced legislation. In 1887 Sir Samuel was associated with Sir James Garrick in the representation of Queensland at the Colonial Conference held in London in that year, and took a prominent and successful part in its proceedings. At the Conference he proposed a resolution, which was carried, affirming the desirableness of preferential treatment of British products throughout the British dominions. At the general election in the spring of 1888 the supporters of the Griffith Government were placed in a minority, and they accordingly resigned in June. After leading the Opposition to the McIlwraith and Morehead Ministries until August 1890, the latter resigned, and the Governor invited Sir Samuel Griffith to form a second Administration, which he succeeded in doing in combination with his former opponent, Sir Thomas McIlwraith, and still holds office as Premier. Sir Samuel was one of the representatives of Queensland at the Intercolonial Federation Conference held in Melbourne in 1890, and at the Sydney Convention of 1891. Of the latter body he was unanimously appointed Vice-Chairman. He has occupied for a number of years the leading position at the bar in Queensland. In 1889, while in opposition, he introduced, and succeeded in passing, a codification of the law of defamation, and also passed through the Assembly an Eight Hours Bill, which, however, was defeated in the Legislative Council. In the following year, being still in opposition, he introduced a Bill to declare the natural law relating to the acquisition and ownership of private property, the fundamental principle of which is that the products of labour (whether of mind or body) belong of right to the persons who have contributed to their production (including the possession of the property to which the labour is applied) and belong to them in proportion to the value of their respective contributions. He maintains that this principle is the only alternative to the rule that each man shall get and keep as much as he can from neighbour. This Bill, which was intended to be followed by another to define the procedure for assessing the value of the contributions of the several contributors to production, attracted some attention, but has not yet become law. On the whole Sir Samuel Griffith must be regarded as having occupied the premier position at the Federation Convention of 1891, the Commonwealth Bill being virtually drafted by him, though he received valuable assistance from Messrs. Barton, Deakin, Clark, and Kingston, and the measure was somewhat modified by the Convention sitting as a whole. Early in 1892 Sir Samuel Griffith astonished the world by announcing his conversion to the necessity of renewing the importation of Kanaka labour for the cultivation of the sugar plantations of Northern Queensland for a further period of ten years. He also announced the intention of the Government to encourage the construction of railways on the land grant system. In the former case his plea was that he could not allow the sugar interest to be ruined at the bidding of labour combinations which, whilst opposed to the importation of coloured labour, would not permit of the plantation work being done by white hands. As regarded the land grant railways, he justified his change of opinion on the ground that it was now impossible to borrow money on the English market for the construction of lines necessary for the development of the country. Measures for the effectuation of the policy thus announced were carried in the session of 1892, and though there has been a huge outcry alike from pseudo-philanthropists and genuine enthusiasts against the renewal of the Kanaka labour traffic, Sir Samuel Griffith relies on the

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