History of West Australia/Richard Septimus Haynes

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RICHARD SEPTIMUS HAYNES, M.L.C.

SINCE times immemorial the lawyer has been recognised a prominent member of communities. His work was not at first particularly onerous or complex. He decided between disagreeing parties and upheld the cause of those who were mentally unable to advocate their own rights. He was the exponent of the laws of his day.

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RICHARD SEPTIMUS HAYNES, M.L.C.

But as civilisation advanced and public institutions and laws for the government of peoples multiplied, the attainments and duties of the lawyer increased in unison. To-day it is almost impossible for one person to master all the legal enactments of his country. He must have a comprehensive and powerful mind who can even be termed a clever lawyer. But with his law books around him, his ingenious mind grappling with imagination to help his forensic skill before judges and juries, his gifts of repartee, his cleverness in cross-examination, the lawyer is a power and a rock to stay drifts. His profession naturally leads him into public life; in Parliament and out he is indispensable. While we have laws, and while we have ignorant and clever people disagreeing with each other, we shall probably have lawyers. Although perhaps not so ancient as that of the "medicine man," his profession has equal standing.

Among the chief members of this profession in Western Australia is Mr. R.S. Haynes, M.L.C. Perhaps as a criminal lawyer he stands above his local brethren, and as a bright and sharp pleader and an ingenious advocate he has few equals. Nor has Mr. Haynes confined his attainments to legal matters. He has worked most energetically in the interests of municipal matters, and is the pioneer of quite a number of improvements in the influence and status of municipal bodies. Besides, he is a force in most public affairs, and is one of the best known men in the colony.

Richard Septimus Haynes is an Australian native, and was born at Picton, New South Wales, in 1857. Shortly after his birth the Haynes family removed to Morpeth—that country watered by the Hunter River, where are some of the most fertile soils in Australia. Mr. Haynes, sen., was a schoolmaster, and a prominent man in the Hunter district. He has been fortunate in his sons; one, Dr. Haynes, practised medicine for some years in Perth, and is now in Dubbo, New South Wales. Another son is an active member of the New South Wales House of Assembly, and is known as one of its talented representatives. Under such excellent conditions, amid such congenial surroundings, Haynes spent his earliest days. He eventually left his father, from whom he received the groundings of his education, and attended the Sydney Grammar School. He did not particularly distinguish himself at this establishment, merely proved that he was a smart young fellow whose career had some promise. Upon leaving the Grammar School he was articled in 1873 to Messrs. Russell and Holden, solicitors, of Sydney, and subsequently to Mr. A. W. Simpson, of Armidale, New South Wales. In course of time he was admitted to practice, and then managed the offices of Messrs. Norton and Smith, solicitors, Sydney. For five subsequent years he practised in Sydney, whereupon he decided to join the small community congregated in Western Australia. That was in 1885, and here he at once worked energetically to obtain a lucrative connection. He was so successful in his first few cases that his name was made, and he became one of the most notable members of the local profession. He sought to establish a high standing in criminal practice particularly, and his quick wit, ingenuity, and powers of pleading soon made a way. The subsequent annals of Western Australian criminal procedure show him to have been connected with all prominent cases, and to-day he leads that class of practice. Of the more famous cases was the trial of Hughes on three capital offences, one of which was the killing of a policeman. Hughes was a bushranger of the Ned Kelly type, and Mr. Haynes distinguished himself while defending the criminal. After his clever address to the jury, in which he pleaded most vigorously for his client, a verdict was returned on the minor charges of shooting with intent to wound. He appeared for the defendant in the action Gribble v. The West Australian newspaper. The plaintiff, the Rev. J. B. Gribble, sued the newspaper for libel alleged to be contained in the review of a book he had published, in which he was termed a "lying, canting humbug." The trial took place before two judges, and lasted twenty-one days. Mr. Haynes also defended the notorious murderer, Deeming, in Perth when his extradition application was made and he was proceeded against under the writ of habeas corpus. The ability Mr. Haynes displayed on these occasions and on others which could be mentioned stamped him as a talented advocate and a leader in his profession. He recently took into partnership Mr. W. M. Purkiss, formerly a Crown Prosecutor in New Zealand. Like most lawyers connected with criminal work, Mr. Haynes has taken up civil work; at present he devotes his whole time to practice at the bar.

As early as the year after his arrival in Western Australia Mr. Haynes had so proved his ability to ratepayers that they elected him member of the Perth City Council, and in the same year also he was appointed the first chairman under the Board of Health Act for the Perth district. He was a vigorous member of the local Board of Health, and was strenuous in his efforts to inspire it with vitality and energy. He drew up all its rules, and finally resigned in consequence of want of support from the Police Magistrate in enforcing orders. He continued a councillor of the Perth municipality until 1889. For two years he then confined himself to his practice, but in 1891 he again entered the City Council, sitting a further three years, and in 1894 he did not contest his seat. He was the first to advocate and initiate the formation of the Municipal Association of Western Australia. This Association meets at intervals, and comprises delegates from the chief municipalities of the colony, who discuss matters of supreme interest to themselves. By such means the body proves of unique advantage, and greatly strengthens every municipality, and enables one and all to bring united force to bear upon Parliament and the public on matters of vital importance. Mr. Haynes, as was his just right, was in 1894 elected the first chairman of the Association. He took a most fatherly interest in its welfare, and drew up the by-laws and the constitution. In Perth municipal affairs he prepared the by-laws for the regulation of the Council proceedings, and the subdivision of the Council into committees. His irrepressible activity was otherwise manifested. He was authorised by the Council to report on the work of its officers, with the result that the city engineer and accountant were appointed, and introduced two large loan bills, which were expended in forming new streets. In all these respects he was conspicuous for good works. Thus he left a permanent mark on the history of municipal government in Western Australia. On two occasions he was nominated and contested West Perth for a seat in the House of Assembly, but was defeated by narrow majorities. In June, 1896, he contested the Central Province (including Geraldton, Cue, Day Dawn, Lawlers; Tattoo, Dongara, Carnarvon, and other places) in the Legislative Council. The old member, Mr. McKernan, was unseated by a narrow majority by Mr. Haynes. There is no doubt that his presence in Parliament will give a fillip to political life and infuse increased vitality into it. This is required more than is generally recognised. From his first arrival in the colony he became a strong advocate for Responsible Government. He wrote to newspapers, and was a founder of the Central Reform League, and became one of its seven leaders. The local League eventuated, and twelve months after its formation the Legislative Council passed the historical motion in favour of autonomy.

Mr. Haynes took active steps in regard to the disagreement between Chief Justice Onslow and Governor Broome. He publicly advocated the reinstatement of the Chief Justice after he was interdicted, and held meetings where his rights were aired. He thus stirred up public opinion, and the Chief Justice again took his seat on the Supreme Court Bench. In 1880 Mr. Haynes was married to Marion, daughter of Mr. A. J. Goodwin, of Sydney.

For the rest, Mr. Haynes encourages all manly sports, and is vice-president of a large number of football and cricket clubs. He is a witty conversationalist, and one of the most popular men in Perth. There are few people who do not know Mr. Haynes in the capital, and everywhere he is greeted with goodwill and heartiness. A popular leader of the criminal bar, and a prominent man in other regards in Western Australia, it can well be said that Mr. Haynes' local career has been remarkably successful and creditable.