MR D. GAUNSON AND THE CONVICT KELLY
The following is the petition which has been prepared at Ballarat with a view to directing the attention of the assembly to Mr. Gaunson’s conduct in connexion with the Kelly reprieve agitation. The Ballarat Star states that the petition has been largely signed by persons of all shades of opinion. It runs as follows:―
“To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the Legislative assembly of Victoria.
“Gentlemen,―The undersigned, residents of Ballarat, beg most respectfully to approach your honourable House, representing:
“1st. That they have observed with the deepest grief the position into which the colony has been placed in connexion with the sentence of the late Edward Kelly by the action of one of your responsible officers, namely, the hon. member for Ararat, your present Chairman of Committees.
“2nd. They would not condemn but commend every effort put forth by the hon. member for the purpose of obtaining either the acquittal or reprieve of his client so long as such efforts were kept within legitimate bounds; but they submit to your honourable House that it is simply scandalous that he should call public meetings and lay before such meetings garbled and one-sided statements, all of which are calculated to intensify the hatred of the criminal class towards the police, and to bring the law into contempt. We would specially direct the attention of your honourable House to the fact that after Kelly had laid his fiendish plot to wreck a train, and in cold blood sacrifice the lives of a number of men who were simply in the execution of their duty, and after Mr. Curnow had nobly risked his life to save the train, your chairman is not ashamed or afraid to repeat the infamous falsehood of Edward Kelly, ‘that he had sent Mr. Curnow to stop the train.’ Thus your chairman endeavours, by repeating the criminal’s falsehoods, to arouse sympathy in the minds of unthinking, and to still further deprave the minds of the criminal classes amongst us.
“3rd. The only apology that we have seen offered four your chairman’s conduct is in effect that he is endeavouring to make capital out of his agitation for his own profit, although he has no sympathy with crime. We accept this view, and urge that conduct influenced by such motives is debasing to himself and the community, and is bringing a deep reproach upon the colony. At the very time that we have amongst us a host of the most intelligent men from all civilised nations, the colony is disgraced by meetings of the very scum of Melbourne, and by an agitation sustained by your chairman, that is a blot upon our national character and an insult to the fair fame of this colony. We therefore beg your honourable House to vindicate its own good name by removing your chairman from his office.―We are,” &c.