Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/18

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superseded by the fleets of fast-going steamers, that traverse the distance between London and Melbourne in little more than a month. The various colonies are no longer isolated settlements; all the leading cities of the Australian continent are connected by railway and telegraph, and the grand idea of an "Australian Federal Union," advocated for many years with all the earnestness of an eloquent Irish-Australian statesman,[1] is rapidly approaching the practical stage of accomplishment. The Irish in Australia form a most interesting study. True to their national character, they have come to the front in all the colonies. In every colonial parliament, Irishmen will be found distinguishing themselves as political leaders. Responsible parliamentary government, or, in simpler words, Home Rule, is in operation in all the Australian colonies save one, and it is, therefore, not surprising that colonial legislatures should have a large proportion of Irishmen, when it is remembered that the choice of efficient representatives is left unreservedly in the hands of the people. As a striking proof of the signal political ability displayed by Irish leaders in Australia, it is worthy of note that, since the inception of parliamentary government in the leading colony, Victoria, all the Speakers of the Legislative Assembly have, without exception, been Irishmen. There can be no dispute about the nationality of gentlemen bearing such names as Sir Francis Murphy, Sir Charles MacMahon, Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, and the Hon. Peter Lalor, the last mentioned being the present first commoner of Victoria. And it must be borne in mind that the selection of these gentlemen

  1. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, who has made "Australian Federation" the subject of several brilliant addresses.