Page:Banking Under Difficulties- Or Life On The Goldfields Of Victoria, New South Wales And New Zealand (1888).pdf/49

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BANKING UNDER DIFFICULTIES;

military were sent up from Melbourne, who on arrival were confronted by a stockade, erected by the rioters on the famous Bakery Hill. At early dawn of the 3rd of December, 1854, this place was stormed and taken, not without loss of life on both sides, and thus this very exceptional and unhappy occurrence came to an end.

“The new Governor, Sir Charles Hotham, had arrived about six months previously, and he was not long in discovering that he had fallen heir to a considerable amount of trouble. Aware of the serious aspects of the Ballarat case, and of the goldfields generally, he had already, some weeks before the outbreak, projected the appointment of a commission for the purpose of inquiring into and reporting on the state of the mining district. This commission had hardly been constituted ere the intelligence of the outbreak reached Melbourne, and showed to its members the seriousness of their duties and the urgency for the commencement of their Inquiries. The commission proceeded at once to the scene of the trouble, and were engaged at the mines for several weeks in the months of December and January, 1854-5, during which time they visited Ballarat and Creswick, Castlemaine (the capital of the Mount Alexander country), and Sandhurst, that of the Bendigo district.

“The commission was well received at the mines, more especially as the recent outbreak had already produced a favourable reaction among the great body of the miners, who disapproved of carrying opposition to the Government to the unwarrantable lengths of the Ballarat climax; and who, indeed, were anxious to explain so unusual a mistake of their countrymen by attributing the more extreme counsels to several impetuous foreigners, chiefly Germans, whose notions about distinction of constitutional and unconstitutional opposition to a Government were of rather a confused description. The commission produced a lengthened report, in which the whole system of goldfields management was proposed to be reconstituted. The miners’ earnings were found to be, on an average, rather smaller than those of other branches of colonial labour—a circumstance not favourable to the persistent maintenance of a heavy license fee of practically very unequal incidence. The report recommended the abolition of this fee, and in its place the imposition of a moderate export duty on gold. The issue of a miner’s right was suggested at a cost to each miner of £1 per year, and conferring upon him both the mining privileges and the franchise. The commission recommended local elective mining courts and benches of the regularly paid magistrates. The title of ‘Commissioner’ to the head official of each goldfield—a name now associated with the wranglings of the past, was proposed to be changed to the old English mining title, ‘Warden,’ and the warden was to hold his relations direct with the Executive instead