North Queensland Separation

The following essay by Harold Finch-Hatton was published in the February 1886 issue of the English journal National Review, pp. 796-809, on the subject of North Queensland separating from South Queensland to form a new Australian state. Finch-Hatton argued passionately in favour of separation, making frequent scathing attacks on the anti-Separationist Premier of Queensland, Mr. Samuel Griffith.

The demand for separation on the part of the inhabitants of North Queensland is rapidly assuming a definite shape, and the matter will at no distant date be referred to the tribunal of this country for settlement. It is most important, therefore, that the minds of those who will be called upon to pronounce judgement upon so grave a question should be freed from all misrepresentation and bias, and that the real issues which are at stake should be clearly set forth. The danger is not nearly so great now as it would have been a few years ago, that the subject, when it is once brought forward, will fail to excite the interest and attention which are due to it. Since the time when Professor Seeley wrote his admirable work on The Expansion of England, an extraordinary change has taken place in the bearing of England towards her Colonies. Imperial Federation has been brought forward, and the powerful hold which the idea of a united Empire has taken over the uneducated masses as well as the educated classes in this country, proves, if any proof is needed, that the Manchester school of politicians is now very nearly extinct. Indeed, in the student of political history at the present time, a disintegrator excites much the same sort of affectionate interest which a hundred years ago, in the kindred realms of natural history, would have been occasioned by the appearance of a Dodo. It is true that one of the greatest leaders of the Manchester school still survives in the person of Mr. John Bright, who may be heard at intervals shouting his paean of disintegration over the fossil remains of his predecessors; but his voice has lost much of its former power of persuasion, and, when it is heard, it acts more as a warning than as a guide. Anchored by the twin cables of pride and prejudice to the rock of ignorance, for more than half a century he has withstood the advancing tide of progress and of common sense; and now, having gone down at his moorings, like a wreck whose masts are still visible above water, he serves as a sort of involuntary beacon to warn future politicians off the shoals and quicksands of Imperial navigation.

It is one thing, however, to be interested in a matter, and quite another to be well informed with regard to all its bearings. It is only very recently that the veil of insular arrogance and prejudice has been lifted from our eyes, and, in the face of the inherited ignorance of several generations, it is perhaps too much to expect the average Englishman to have an intimate knowledge of the pros and cons of the controversy which is being carried on between the North and South of Queensland at the present time. The extremely limited amount of information upon this subject which up to now has reached this country [England], has soaked--we wish we could say filtered--thorough official channels in Brisbane. Before we have done we shall be able to show that any statements emanating from that quarter should be received with extreme mistrust. The object of the following pages is to state the question fairly and upon its own merits, and in doing so the advantage of some nine years' residence in Queensland may possibly enable the writer to throw a new light upon some of the disputed points.

The inhabitants of North Queensland demand complete and territorial separation from the South, such as in 1859 was granted to Queensland from New South Wales. They claim, in fact, to be made a separate and a self-governing colony; and no half-measures, such as financial separation, or the forming of the North into a Crown colony, will by any means satisfy their demand. That the proposal has met with the most violent and bitter opposition from the South of Queensland will not surprise anyone who is acquainted with the internal administration of the colony. For years the North has been a lucrative source of plunder to the South; and Brisbane, the capital, being situated in the south-east corner of the colony, the revenue derived from taxation of the North has been mercilessly appropriated and expended in the remote southern districts. Indeed, precisely the same causes that make the North most anxious to separate, make the South most anxious to continue the connection. The one objects to being plundered any longer; the other objects to being no longer allowed to plunder.

Mr. Griffith, the present Premier of Queensland, himself a Brisbane man, is, of course, a strong opponent of separation. But if the present article seems to partake rather too much of a personal controversy with Mr. Griffith, we assure our readers that this arises from no sort of ill-feeling or animus against him, but simply from the fact that he is ex officio the leader of the Anti-Separationists, and, so far, he has remained their solitary mouthpiece. It would have made our task a far pleasanter one if we had to deal with a less responsible politician than Mr. Griffith, for we shall have to bring charges against him which cannot fail to throw discredit upon the political morality of a colony which has chosen him for her premier.

The demand of the Northern Queenslanders for separation is met by two arguments. In the first place, it is asserted that the movement is premature, and, in the second place, that it is by no means universal, but confined entirely to one class, namely, the sugar-planters. That the first of these propositions is quite unreasonable, and the second entirely untrue, we are now prepared to prove; and we shall further submit that the arguments by which Mr. Griffith endeavours to substantiate them are such as no honourable politician would condescend to employ. Relying, it is to be presumed, upon the twelve thousand miles that separate him from those in this country whom his utterances are intended to deceive, he has put forward statements so entirely misleading, and shown such a cynical disregard for facts, as not even the extremely lax morality of modern politics can possibly condone.

With regard to the contention that the movement in favour of separation is premature, we cannot do better than compare the position of North Queensland to-day with that of Queensland herself when she separated from New South Wales in 1859.

In 1859, an agitation which had been going on for some years took effect, and, in compliance with the wishes of her inhabitants, Queensland was declared a separate colony; and on the 10th of December in the same year her first governor, Sir George Bowen, landed in Brisbane. The total area of Queensland is 668,224 square miles, and at that time her whole population was not more than 25,000 souls. The exports of the colony were pastoral products only, amounting to £487,904, all of which were shipped to the neighbouring capital of Sydney, and not direct to England or to any other country. The revenue for that year was £6,475 17s. 8d., and the colony commenced her existence with an overdraft at the Union Bank of Australia of £2,132 13s. 11d. Agriculture and mining, industries which have since contributed so largely to the prosperity of the colony, were at that time hardly represented. Even in 1860, the number of acres under cultivation was only 3,351, the whole produce of which was consumed in the colony. The amount of gold exported in that year was 4,127 oz., valued at £14, 576. Civilization did not extend beyond Rockhampton, now the second capital of Queensland; and almost the whole of the region which to-day constitutes the proposed colony of North Queensland was a terra incognita, inhabited only by kangaroos and blacks, with no trace of white men, except perhaps the skeleton of some hardy explorer who had penetrated into the unknown regions of the north, and paid the penalty of his temerity with his life. Yet it is a remarkable fact that, even at this early stage of the history of Queensland, a movement for separation of the north from the south began to make itself felt. At one time it was suggested that Rockhampton should be the capital of Northern Queensland. Later on, as civilization moved farther north, Bowen was suggested as the most suitable place. Both these places are geographically entirely unsuited for the purpose, and Rockhampton now lies far to the south of the proposed boundary of North Queensland. But the fact remains, which no one conversant wth the history of the colony can deny, that the agitation for separation of North Queensland from the South is almost as old as the colony herself. This of itself is sufficent to disprove the assertion that the present agitation for separation originated with the planters, for, at the period of which we are speaking, the sugar industry had not yet been thought of. Post hoc ergo propter hoc [After this, therefore because of this; a well-known logical fallacy] may occasionally be sound reasoning; but Ante hoc ergo non propter hoc [Before this therefore not because of this] is an axiom of which Mr. Griffith's legal mind will readily admit the force.

Such, then, was the position of Queensland when she separated from New South Wales: an empty exchequer, half her territory unexplored, and a population of one to every twenty-six square miles. Yet no one for a moment doubted that a prosperous future was in store for her, and the event has fully justified her action in severing her connection with New South Wales.

Very different are the conditions under which North Queensland proposes to separate from the South to-day. The southern boundary of the new colony would be fixed near Cape Palmerston, in lat. 22° South. The region north of this parallel comprises the Cook, Burke, North Kennedy, and a portion of the South Kennedy districts. It includes an area of over 249,000 square miles, and contains the entire river system of the north-east corner of the continent, with a sea-board of 1,600 miles. Its lands are fertile in the highest degree, covered in districts by magnificent forests of valuable timber, and good nutritious grasses; above all, its mineral resources are almost fabulous, and it is blessed with a climate eminently suitable for the cultivation of tropical and semi-tropical products. The population now numbers nearly 60,000, considerably more than double the number which the whole colony contained at the time of her separation from New South Wales. The financial position of the North to-day must be considered as being in a far sounder condition than that of Queensland in 1860, for if separation were to take place at once, the North would start with a revenue of over £480,000. The pastoral interest, too, is well represented, the returns showing that there are now in the North 1,850,000 cattle, one half of the total number in the colony, and 4,000,000 sheep.

Not only, however, does the position of North Queensland far surpass that of Queensland 1859, but upon one or two points it contrasts most favourably with that of South Queensland to-day. The cultivation of sugar, an industry upon which a large amount of capital has already been expended, and which under favourable circumstances is capable of assuming vast proportions, and of adding considerably to the prosperity of the country, is, from climatic reasons, confined to the northern portion of the colony. But it in the marvellous richness of her mineral resources that the North of Queensland most pre-eminently outshines the South. Whereas in the South there are only 178 reefs and about 150 square miles of auriferous country, the gold-fields of the North extend over an area of 5,325 square miles, containing 830 reefs at work. The total yield of gold for the whole colony during the past seven years is 4,221,480 oz., of which the North claims 3,019,751 oz., or nearly three-fourths. Nor is the ascendancy of the North in the output of other minerals less marked, as the following returns for 1883 will show:--

Total Value
for Colony
Copper 21,080 15,000
Tin 588,012 557,890
Galena 56,760 56,760
Antimony 5,210 2,660

When we consider that the Northern miners have achieved the above results by their own unaided exertions, entirely unassisted by the government in Brisbane, it is difficult to know which to wonder at most--the extraordinary perseverance of the miners, or the inconceivable stupidity of the Government. Indeed, so far from rendering them any assistance, Mr. Griffith has recently inflicted a serious blow upon the miners' interests by the imposition of a tax upon machinery imported into the colony. It is difficult to estimate what an immense impetus would be given to the prosperity of the Northern miners by the establishment of a Government of their own, which would encourage and assist their exertions, instead of throwing obstacles in their way.

Extraordinary as are the riches already brought to light, it is certain that the mining of North Queensland is only in its infancy. Not only are fresh gold-fields being discovered every year, but there are at the present time hundreds of reefs lying idle for want of capital to work them. Many of these have been taken up by parties of working-men, who, after taking out the surface and going down as deep as they could, have been forced to abandon their claims for want of capital to erect machinery, without which it is impossible to work at a depth. Vast deposits of copper, exceeding in richness anything of the kind that the world has ever seen, extend over the Cloncurry districts and the Mackinlay ranges, awaiting the extension of the railway system to make their working payable.

Magnificent beds of coal give evidence of their existence unsought for, cropping out on the surface in seams ten, twenty, and in one place sixty feet in thickness.

With such resources as these at her command, with a population now numbering 60,000 of the hardiest and most enterprising pioneers of Australian civilization, can anyone pretend that the demand for separation on the part of North Queensland is in any sense premature?

We will now consider the second charge brought forward against separation, namely, that the demand for it is not universal, but confined entirely to the class of sugar-planters. In the Times of June 18, 1885, appeared a letter dated Brisbane, April 25th, on "The Labour Traffic in the Southern Pacific." The communication was unsigned; but those who are behind the scenes have no difficulty in identifying it as the work of a gentleman who formed one of Mr. Griffith's notorious bogus Commission, appointed to inquire into the conduct of the Black labour in North Queensland. Now, with regard to this letter, we are more concerned with its object than with its matter and details, which are thoroughly mendacious from first to last. The object of that letter, and the persistent object of Mr. Griffith himself, is to cast upon the planters the blame for all the abuses in connection with the Black labour traffic. Now this may impose, as it is doubtless intended to, upon people in this country who know nothing about the matter. But to the inhabitants of Queensland it must appear as a piece of shameless effrontery absolutely unique. Whether there have or have not been abuses connected with the recruiting of South Sea Islanders for work on the Northern plantations, does not in any concern us at the present moment. The question is, Can Mr. Griffith by any means shift the blame from his own shoulders on to the planters? Can he deny that his own Government agent accompanies each vessel to the islands, vested with arbitrary powers over the captain himself, so that he can--as occurred in more than one instance--order the vessel to return to port before she ever reaches her destination? In a word, can Mr. Griffith deny that he is himself entirely and solely responsible for the abuses with which he is endeavouring to saddle the planters? But this is by the way, and we now come to the pith of the whole letter. The writer concludes by saying: "The separation movement was conceived, is carried on almost solely, and supported wholly, by the money of the sugar-planters, and except in two sugar estate centres, it has fallen dead."

We will now consider Mr. Griffith's own utterances. In a letter dated April 1, 1885, to the Governor of Queensland, among many other reckless and unfounded statements we find the following:-- "At the mining towns, which represent a very large proportion of the resources and population of the North, no attempt has been made by the promoters of separation to obtain any expression of opinion in its favour. It is well known that any such an attempt would be entirely unsuccessful. . . . With the exception of Mackay and Townsville, and the small town of Bowen, none of the northern centres of population contain a majority, or even a considerable minority, in favour of the movement."

Now, even supposing this were true, it would be something to know that Townsville, Mackay, and Bowen, by far the three most important towns of North Queensland, were in favour of separation; but, as a matter of fact, Mr. Griffith's statement is absolutely untrue. In the whole of the North of Queensland there is not a single town of even second-rate importance that does not contain a strong branch of the Separation League, the head-centre of which is at Townsville. Charters Towers, Cairns, Cooktown, Port Douglas, Ingham, and Townsville, have all of them a considerable minority, and most of them an absolute majority, in favour of separation, and are all represented by strong branches of the League. Of these towns, Herberton, Cloncurry, and Charters Towers represent the great mining centres, where Mr. Griffith says no effort has been made to obtain an expression of opinion. At Charters Towers the press is represented by the Northern Miner, an organ for some time opposed to separation, but which has now completely come round, the conversion of the miners to the cause of separation being now almost universal--an event for which Mr. Griffith has chiefly to thank his own most unpopular action in taxing the import of machinery. The Townsville press, consisting of three daily and one weekly paper, is unanimous in advocating separation.

Now, the above facts in themselves are sufficient to rebut the contention that the movement for separation is confined to the planters. But there is a great deal more to come. Mr. Griffith declares that the planters are the only class who desire separation, and that they do so because they wish to turn the North of Queensland into a slave-state. If we are not mistaken, we have shown very clearly that the movement is universal, and thoroughly representative of all classes in the North. We shall now go farther, and show that the planters are the one class who are least likely to derive any immediate benefit from separation. There is no doubt that, without some extensive system of coloured labour, the sugar industry of North Queensland must inevitably collapse; for it has been conclusively proved that, from climatic reasons, it is quite impossible to carry it on by means of white labour. But that the planters will be any nearer their object when separation takes place appears extremely improbable, for the various branches of the League in the North have passed a unanimous resolution pledging themselves not to support coloured labour, and declaring that "if that is the price of the planters' assistance, they will not accept it." We recommend this fact to Mr. Griffith's notice, and leave him to reconcile it with his assertion that the movement for separation is supported solely by the planters.

With the vexed question of the introduction of coloured labour into North Queensland we do not propose to deal at any length here. There is no doubt that the sugar industry in the North has attracted some millions of capital into the colony, and provided plenty of work for thousands of white men who would otherwise have been unemployed. Neither is there any doubt that at the present time the industry is in a state of collapse, owing to the impossibility of obtaining coloured labour under existing legislation. It is to be hoped that in time to come the working classes will modify their unreasoning jealousy of those coloured races, who never can compete with skilled labour, but who, on the contrary, by doing work which white men are quite unable to do in a tropical climate, provide work and good wages for innumerable Europeans, and confer an immense benefit on the community at large. In the letter referred to above, Mr. Griffith observes (par. 18) that, "if coolies or any other inferior coloured races are introduced into a country in large numbers, they will, within a measurable time, overflow the whole country, and enter into competition with the European workmen, whom they will eventually displace." It is difficult to imagine that Mr. Griffith is serious in putting forward so utterly childish a proposition. Where is the precedent for his alarmist theory? Have the coolies displaced the European workmen in Mauritius? The directors of the Peninsular and Oriental Company might just as reasonably object to employing coolie firemen in the Red Sea, for fear they should enter into competition with the purser, and ultimately displace the captain. Coolies, we repeat, in tropical climates, are able to do work which white men are not, and, by doing it, to develop industries by which white men, and especially the artisan class, benefit enormously.

The experiment of working the sugar plantations in North Queensland by white labour has been tried, and found to be a dead failure, and no one in his senses is likely to try it again. This, however, is a digression. What we are mainly concerned in proving is, that the present agitation for separation exists entirely independent of the sugar industry, and is supported by a majority of those who are directly opposed to the introduction of coloured labour into the colony.

Indeed, the separation of North Queensland from the South is far too wide a question to be referred to the narrow limits of a rise or fall in the price of sugar, and, important as are the interests of the planter, they are by no means the only ones which are concerned. It is, in fact, a matter which affects the immediate well-being of every class in the colony, and the elements of the question will be found to rest upon a climatic and geographical basis. A glance at the map of Queensland will show the absurdity of attempting any longer to govern a colony 1,300 miles long from a town situated in the remote southern corner of it, the inhabitants of which can never be in touch with the true interests of the far North.

Even were human nature perfect, and all politicians disinterested patriots, it would be impossible to get suitable men to represent the Northern districts in the House of Parliament situated, perhaps, a thousand miles from their homes. But, unfortunately, all politicians are not patriots; and a very slight investigation will show that the grievances which the North of Queensland complains of to-day are not merely sentimental, but very real and substantial ones. Exactly the same causes are at work at the present time to sever the North of Queensland from the South as six-and-twenty years ago resulted in the separation of Queensland from New South Wales. It is not, as Brisbane politicians assert, the depression of the sugar industry which has now brought the separation movement to a climax, but the misappropriation of the public revenue by the Southern districts. This is a fact to which the Northern ratepayers are now becoming very much alive, as Mr. Griffith's Government have recently discovered to their cost. In his letter to the Governor, from which we have already quoted, the Premier says (par. 3): "About two years ago an agitation of this kind was initiated in Townsville, which for a time appeared to have some little vitality, but which had entirely ceased to exist before the date of the last General Election, which took place in the latter end of the year 1883. At that election the question of separation was not seriously raised in any of the Northern electorates.

This may possibly have been true in 1883, but Mr. Griffith will hardly deny that it is no longer the case. The bye-elections for Townsville and the Cook, in 1885, were fought entirely on the Separation question, and both resulted in the return of a strong Separationist. The result of the election for the Musgrave is not yet known, but the return of Mr. Philp, the Separationist candidate, is considered certain. In fact, according to the Press of North Queensland, it would be perfectly useless for any but a Separationist candidate to come forward for any Northern constituency.

If ever there was a country to which Mr. Gladstone's remarkable centrifugal theory of representation might, with any show of reason, by applied, it is Queensland, for here we see the evils of centralization exemplified in their worst form. Jobbery of the grossest kind is everywhere rampant in politics, and the amount of public money that sticks to the fingers of those who have the handling of it is something fabulous. Legislation is not unfrequently degraded into the science of filling the pockets of of individuals at the expense of the community, and the advent to power of a fresh Government means an infliction to which the colony has to submit, just as she has to a periodical flight of locusts or a severe drought. There are now sixty members of Parliament for the whole of Queensland, ten of whom represent the North, and the remaining fifty the South. Taking the population of the North at 60,000, and that of the South at 250,000, it will be seen that, numerically, the North is very much under-represented, there being only one member for every six thousand inhabitants, while in the South there is one member for every five thousand. but this by no means represents the whole of the evil, as far as the North is concerned, for, as was before stated, the enormous distance which separates the North from the present seat of government makes it practically impossible that the North should ever be fairly represented at all. Few men go to settle in the North of Queensland unless they have interests of some kind on the spot; and it is not likely that anyone will give up his business and go into exile in Brisbane, merely for the honour of sitting in a Parliament in which, upon any question affecting the interests of his constituency, he can never hope to find himself in anything but an insignificant minority.

The consequences to North Queensland of such a state of affairs may be easily imagined, and an inquiry into the expenditure of public money upon the North, as compared with the South of the colony, at once reveals an amount of injustice which can no longer be tolerated. The attention of the Government in Brisbane had often been called to the glaring anomalies in the respective sums of public money voted for the North and South, but it was not until the question of separation was seriously raised that Brisbane politicians thought it worth while to attend to the matter. Accordingly, the present Premier set off last year on a tour round the Northern country, not, as might have been supposed, with a view to ascertain the grievances of the inhabitants, but with the express purpose of throwing dust in their eyes as to the real facts of the case. Mr. Griffith has been brought up in the modern school of politics, and no one knows better than he the value of an opportune falsehood, and the worthlessness of any subsequent contradiction to efface the effects of it. Speaking at a banquet in Townsville, June 1885, Mr. Griffith said: "Calculating the population of the North as averaging one-sixth of that of the colony from its inception, the amount due to it on Railway loan expenditure would be £2,760,000. They have received £2,446,000, or £314,000 less than what they should have done."

In his letter to the Governor, from which we have already quoted, he says (par. 7): "The statement that public works are neglected I can only attribute to inaccurate information on the part of the writers. In fact, no such neglect exists, or can be seriously asserted to exist."

We are not only prepared seriously to assert it, but conclusively to prove our assertion. In order to do so we have the advantage of the Treasurer's statement of loan balances up to 30th June 1884, and of original votes, also of the statement of the loan expenditure for the first nine months of the financial year 1884-5, published in the Gazette of the 9th April 1885. We presume Mr. Griffith had a similar advantage, and we can only regret that he did not make better use of it. The official figures give the following:--

The total amount of the loan votes given in Table D, p. 5, of the Treasurer's tables, laid on the table of the Legislative Assembly on the 10th September 1884, was £16,450,786. Of this sum there was voted for the North, for the purposes specified below, the amounts set forth:--

Northern Railway £815,000
Mackay to Eton and Hamilton 90,000
Bowen to Houghton Gap 150,000
Cooktown to Maytown 180,000
Herberton to Coast 200,000
Public Offices, Townsville 26,425
Water Supply, Charters Towers 3,500
Water Supply, Townsville 33,000
Roads and Bridges 146,500


The balances unexpended on the 30th June 1884 were as follows:--

Northern Railway £256,423
Mackay Line 52,747
Cooktown Line 133,064
Bowen 148,233
Herberton 195,537
Townsville Offices 1,945
Townsville Water 6,709

Total £796,845

Leaving, on the 30th June 1884, only £847,582 expended on Northern railways, public buildings, water-supply, and roads and bridges.

The Gazette which we have cited gives the loan disbursements in the North during the first nine months of the financial year--i.e. up to the 1st April last--on the following purposes, as

Northern Railway £105,402
Mackay 57,187
Bowen 1,811
Cooktown 81,353
Herberton 4,842

Total £250,595

The total loan expenditure on the North, then, for all the purposes specified, up to the 1st April 1885, was £1,098,177. Deducting the amount expended on public works other than railways--amounting in all to £209,424--we find the total expended on railways in the North to be £888,753, instead of, as stated by Mr. Griffith, £2,446,000. But there is a much shorter and simpler method of proving Mr. Griffith's assertion to be grossly incorrect. The total railway loan expenditure in the whole colony, up to 31st March 1885, was £8,323,748. The number of miles of railway completed in the North were, at that time, 200, as against 990 in the South. Taking Mr. Griffith's statement as correct, it would mean that the Northern lines must have cost £12,500 a mile, and the Southern lines only a little over £4,000. To anyone acquainted with the railway expenditure in the colony the supposition is too ridiculous to need contradiction.

Such, then, are some of the grievances which Northern Queensland has to complain of to-day. It is idle to pretend that they are not very substantial ones, and useless to hope that they will be remedied so long as she continues a part of the Southern colony.

A fresh loan of £10,000,000 is being contemplated by the colony, and it is quite certain that a large proportion of it will be borrowed on the security of the North, and spent on the requirements of the South. Naturally the Northerners look forward with anything but satisfaction to an increase in their taxation, for which they are not the least likely to get anything like an equivalent return in the shape of public money.

We have seen that between the positions of South Queensland in 1860 and North Queensland in 1885, there is no comparison, whether we take population, trade, mining, agriculture, or financial position, as the basis of our calculations.

The South of Queensland is in every way in a healthy and prosperous condition, and is not likely to suffer at all seriously from being separated from the North; as she has within herself, like the North, all the elements of independent greatness. The North has undeveloped resources, of which it is impossible to calculate the worth, and has already developed resources of which it is easy to estimate the importance. Her demand for separation is perfectly fair and reasonable, and is justified by the fact that her population warrants it and that her imports and exports and amount of trade are amply sufficient to raise the necessary revenue for carrying on her government. The advantages which she would derive from severing her connection with the South are very considerable. The whole control of the revenue loans and expenditure would be secured, and confined to the limits of the new colony. The expenses of self-government would be infinitely less than her present annual loss in contributing to enrich the Southern districts, and to support a Government situated over a thousand miles away. Under a separate Government, her resources, mineral, pastoral, and agricultural, would be more certainly and more rapidly developed, while an impulse would be given to every branch of industry and trade. The administration of justice would be facilitated and its jurisdiction more widely extended. Lastly, she would be enabled to conserve her mineral lands, and make them produce a large revenue, which could be applied to reducing taxation on articles of consumption, and so would diminish the cost of living.

We have shown that the demand for separation in Northern Queensland is not confined to any one class, but is thoroughly representative of all sections of the community. Nor is it of recent date, having gradually grown with the growth of the colony itself. The question is, we repeat, in its nature essentially a geographical one, and arose from the capital of a large colony being placed at the extreme southern boundary. It has been brought to a climax, strange though it may appear, mainly by the kindred question of the Federation of the Australian colonies.

At first sight Separation and Federation may seem to be antagonistic ideas, but a moment's reflection will show that such is not the case. The inhabitants of North Queensland are most anxious to form a part of Federal Australia, but they know that as merely a dependency of South Queensland they can never hope to make their voice heard. While not one atom less susceptible than her sister colonies to the ties of sentiment which bind together the British race throughout the world, North Queensland possesses her full share of the national intolerance of injustice. With all the elements of prosperous independence at her feet, with all her loyalty to the old country unabated, she claims to take her place as an independent colony, not only in the councils of Federal Australia, but also in that greater Federation of the British Empire, the star of whose united splendour is but just beginning to shine in the gloomy atmosphere of modern history.

History has a somewhat higher opinion of Samuel Griffith than Finch-Hatton did. Griffith was, in fact, not merely a now-obscure 19th century politician, but a major figure in Australian history, though not one that many Australians outside the legal profession have heard of. After being Premier of Queensland from 1883 to 1888 and from 1890 to 1893, he then became Chief Justice of the Queensland Supreme Court. He was one of the prime movers of Federation: "It is widely accepted that he was primarily responsible for writing the first constitutional draft of 1891. This document became the basis for our Constitution, under which the six Australian self-governing colonies came together to form a Federation." (*) He was knighted in 1886, became the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1903 to 1919, and died in 1920.

Sir Samuel Griffith stamp






Griffith is shown on a 2003 postage stamp celebrating the centenary of the High Court of Australia:

There is a Samuel Griffith Society, dedicated to defending the Constitution.

Biography of Samuel Griffith

Griffith University in Brisbane is named after him, as is the Canberra suburb of Griffith.


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