Chapter 4.  

September 1857 – October 1877  


"The Crown Lands Alienation Bill (1861) 'makes no provision for aborigines'." 





"Group of Richmond River Aborigines photographed in 1865. Note ritual cuts on men's chests and transitional clothing."    

[Source - Richmond River Historical Society from Sydney Mail, 1928; 

Oakes, M.J., The Aborigines of the Richmond Area, Pamphlet No. 2            




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Back to Index of Acts by Year



Work in progress. This page updated 7/10/2005  

Note: This web page is part of a research blog, and will expand.


Acts referring to or closely affecting Aboriginal people passed in this period

An Act for the Further Amendment of the Law of Evidence (1858)

Electoral Reform Act (1858) [1] 
Sale of Liquors Licensing Act (1862)

Crown Lands Alienation Bill (1862) (Robertson Land Act) [2]

Supply of Liquors to Aborigines Prevention Act (1867)



First Parliament

(See: Index to Parliamentary Debates (Sydney Morning Herald) 5/1/57-19/12/57) 


Legislative Votes and Assembly Proceedings; Native Police

January 29th 1857


Mr. SANDEMAN, as chairman, brought up the report of the select committee on the Native Police, which, together with the evidence, was laid upon the table of the House, and ordered to be printed.” [3]

Go to The New South Wales Native Police Force, Report of the Select Committee, 1857 408.48KB (418286 bytes) 

Parliamentary Votes and Proceedings; Native police

18 February 1857


The SPEAKER announced that he had presented to the Governor-General the address of the House in reference to the Native Police, to which His excellency had returned an answer intimating that the new estimate would be submitted to the House."

Parliamentary Votes and Proceedings; killing blacks

28 Feb 1857  


Mr. RUSDEN moved, 'That an address be presented to the Governor-General, praying that His excellency will cause to be laid upon the table of this House a return of all correspondence that may have taken place between the Government and any other parties relative to the suspension of a sergeant, and the 'killing of a lot of station blacks by native troopers', as stated in the evidence of R.P. Marshall, Esq., taken before the Select committee on the native police. He supported his motion by reading one or two extracts in the report on the native police to the effect above hinted at.

Mr. PARKER assented to the motion, which was put and passed, remarking however that he had not been able to find any correspondence in his office, or that of the Attorney-General, to the .... ) (incomplete)

Note: find reports referred to.

27 March 1857 

Blankets for Aborigines

Legislative Assembly Votes and Proceedings; Native Police Force

May 2nd 1857


Mr. SANDEMAN moved, ‘1. That the report from the Select Committee on the Native Police Force, which was laid on the table of this House on the 28th ultimo, be now adopted. 2. That an address be presented to the Governor General transmitting a copy of the report, and praying that His Excellency will be pleased to take the necessary measures to carry the recommendations of the report into effect.’ In bringing forward the resolution he did not think it necessary to go into length into the subject. The report went very fully into the matter, and the evidence fully bore out the recommendations of the report. The force having been reduced had been the cause of considerable evil by loss of life and destruction of property, some years ago. It consisted of 140 men, but has been reduced to 72. In the outlying districts loss of life and destruction of property was greatly decreased after the establishment of the native police force, and it has increased since it has been abandoned.

Mr. HARGRAVE: After fully considering the very able report brought up by the committee on this subject, and with the main recommendations of which he fully agreed, thought it was his duty to undertake the somewhat ungracious task of moving an amendment upon it – by omitting the estimates altogether for the Clarence and Macleay, and for reasons which he would endeavour very shortly to explain. Unfortunately for him his experience on the lower McIntyre, at Cullandoon, many years since, convinced him of the necessity for such a corps, as being of great value, not only as regards the amount of property and stock saved , but also in preventing the destruction of human life. He had no wish to lessen the efficiency of this corps; but he also learned that soon after a district ceased to be a frontier one, and after it had been patrolled for some time by this corps, its presence ceases to be necessary; and such he believed to be the case with the Clarence and Macleay. There were doubtless depredations committed by the blacks in these districts, still they were not of a serious nature; but, he believed that the principle value of this force was, that they should (if he might use the expression) march parallel with the squatters as they occupied new territory, and not be detained so far inside the settled districts, where they were too frequently found hanging about the townships, which was one great cause of the efficiency of the corps, but should be sent elsewhere to districts where their services were of more value, and their presence much more required. He had also another objection to retaining this force, caused by the system of control under which they are to be placed – an improvement certainly upon the plan by which they were placed under the control of the Inspector General of Police in Sydney, but by no means applicable to any control which they would have over the force proposed for the Clarence and Macleay. From his own knowledge he could state had been far too much attached to their barracks, and the township of Grafton; indeed, correspondence now in the possession of the Government would bear out his assertions in this respect; and that after months of complaint, , at length a portion of the corps moved to another part of the district. Therefore, if there had been such difficulty in obtaining a proper attention to their duties, when the department was so easy of  approach, and when the officer knew they were so near to control, what prospect of their duty being done would there be if they had to appeal to a commandant at some distance from Moreton Bay? Believing, therefore, that the system of management, which he approved of as applicable to the force generally, and the locality in which they were wanted, would be peculiarly inapplicable to those districts; and that their services would be of much more value on the frontiers; he should move as an amendment – that this portion of the report be not adopted; not from any desire to lessen the corps, or its efficiency, but to transfer the services of this detachment to the frontiers, where their services were far more necessary; and in the hope that they would do their duty better there, than they had hitherto performed the very little they were asked to do in the locality where they now were. He moved that the words ‘except that portion thereof which relates to the employment of this corps in the Clarence River and Macleay Districts, which corps it is the opinion of this House ought to be employed elsewhere.’

Mr. ROBERTSON seconded the amendment.

Mr. PARKER thought the House was indebted to the hon. Member for taking so much pains on the subject. Though some difference of opinion existed as to the numbers of the native police force, all agreed with the conclusions which had been arrived at. (Hear, hear.)  All agreed the force was a valuable one, and better calculated than any other to effect the object for which it was intended. The hon. Member who had moved the amendment doubtless did it with a view to improving the service. He (Mr. Parker) agreed with those who thought that the force ought to be of a frontier character,  although he was not prepared to say when the force should be excluded from the Clarence and Macleay districts. For his own part, he was inclined to think that the police force would be strong enough with the reduction. With regard to another proposition, he thought that the appointment of a commandant would be a great improvement. He thought that with a commandant, and with the control of the Government Resident at Moreton Bay, the efficiency of the force would be greatly improved. He found that the report did not say at what rate the commandant should be paid. He hoped  hon. Members would give the Government some suggestions as to the proper remuneration for the gentleman who might hold the office of commandant. He had asked the police authorities in Sydney for a statement as to the probable extra expense. The salary of the commandant was set down at 500 pounds per annum. He thought that was not sufficient, he was inclined to think the salary ought to be between 500 pounds and 750 pounds; perhaps the latter sum would be the more proper, the secretary was set down as 250 pounds; that perhaps might do. The total increase of expense he found to be 6,971 pounds – that is, the expense was rather more than doubled for the Northern District.  Then it was proposed in the report to discontinue the police in one section of the Southern district.  This would effect a reduction of 1,500 pounds, so that the total increase of expenditure would be 5,500 pounds if this scheme were carried into effect. It should be borne in mind, in dealing with this question, that there was a likelihood of the district of Moreton Bay being separated from the southern part of the colony. (Hear, hear.) Now, if the separation took place, this colony, it was seen, would be subject to the expense of maintaining on account of that district one hundred men or more. He thought, however, it was desirable that that the report should be carried into effect. The black troopers were undeniably better men to run down offenders of their own body than any others. Another thing to consider was the difficulty of finding a proper man for the office of commandant. As for the late commander, Mr. Walker, there can be no doubt but that gentleman possessed peculiar qualifications for the office, and that those qualifications were for a considerable time taken as a set-off against his irregularities. As to think of putting a military man, or a strait-laced Government official, at the head of the force, it was out of the question. (Hear, hear.) From what he (Mr. Parker) heard, the commandant of the native police force must be a man who is not afraid of the saddle – must, in fact, be a thorough bushman. He trusted that, in dealing with this matter, they would receive the assistance of the country gentlemen in the House. (Hear, hear.) He repeated that he thought the hon. Gentleman who brought the question forward was entitled to thanks for taking so active a part in the matter.

Mr. DALLEY said he was resolved to give the honorable gentleman who moved the resolution s all the assistance in his power, in carrying out the report. He could not agree with the amendment, by which it was proposed to draw the native police from the Macleay and Clarence districts.  He could not agree with this proposal, because, looking at the evidence, he perceived that the blacks in those districts were men of the most violent character, and had committed various offences which would never have been punished were it not for the native police force.  If they referred to the activities of Mr. Bligh, they would find that they would not be justified in withdrawing the force from the Clarence, and the entire evidence went to show the expediency of maintaining the force in the Macleay district. As to the expense, he thought that if it were shown that the native police were necessary for the security of life and property, they were bound not to take into consideration the cost incurred on account of the force.

Mr. G. MACLEAY fully agreed with those who thought the native police force ought to be a frontier corps, and therefore he should vote for the amendment. The offences committed by the blacks in the Clarence and the Macleay were not, he would point out, of the same description as those committed on the frontier. In the former instance, the offences were generally committed by solitary blacks, who might be brought to justice by a single constable; while in the latter instance, whole tribes were accustomed to come down and carry off the stock of the settlers. Thus it was necessary to act with lage bodies of police on the frontier, while in the interior districts detached policemen would answer all purposes. Although lately so many outrages had not been committed in the southern districts as formerly, he believed that it was necessary to have a force in the south also, to prevent such outrages as those which had formerly taken place.

Mr. T.G. RUSDEN pointed out the inconvenience of going into a question which honorable members had not had sufficient time to consider (Hear, hear.) He had read the evidence, but he had not had sufficient time to tie to give it due consideration. The report might be a good one, but he would point out that some persons objected on principle to blacks being employed to hunt down blacks; and he would call to mind that, during last session, it was asserted that blacks had been employed to hunt down whites. As to the districts of the Clarence and Macleay, he believed there were no places where the police force was more wanted. This he had heard from a magistrate who was acquainted with the districts. It was within his (Mr. Rusden’s knowledge of the blacks in those two districts, that they had kidnapped away a white boy and girl, who could not be recovered for want of an efficient police force. Under all circumstances, he suggested that the debate should be adjourned till honorable members had had time to read the evidence. For himself, he did not believe that it was either proper or Christian to employ blacks to hunt their fellow-creatures to death; and he doubted whether the proposed protection was required. He suggested to the honorable mover to adjourn the debate for a week. 

Mr. RICHARDSON supported the motion. He said that, no doubt, the native police were an expensive corps, but when life and property were at stake expense was not to be (?obscure) As to the time afforded for consideration of the report, he

would point out that, although the report was new, the object was not. The subject of the native was discussed police was discussed last session, and during several previous sessions. He (Mr. Richardson) was in England, when the native police force was reduced, and when he returned to the colony nothing surprised him more than the reduction which had taken place. Some hon. members would recollect that certain returns which he had asked for and obtained before the reduction of the force, showed the number of murders committed by the blacks to be enormous; and since the force had been reduced the number of murders and outrages had increased.  He knew of his own knowledge that it was customary with the blacks of the Northern districts to say after the reduction of the force, that the native police were now "nyrang"—that is that they were weakened, that they were inefficient; and since that period the blacks had been known to attack settlers within a short distance of Brisbane. As to the late commandant, Mr. Walker, he would re mark that at first that officer was efficient; but the inefficiency of the commandant was no reason for disbanding the force.

Mr. MARKS said that if the cost were to be paid by those who enjoyed the protection, they would do very well to adopt the motion; but if the charge were to be levied on the public at large, the House, he thought, would do well to pause before they assented to the proposal.

Mr. F. T. RUSDEN said, in reference to the assumed separation of Moreton Bay, that whether that event took place or not, the lives and properties of the settlers must be protected. When separation took place, if that event should come about, he felt assured that the Moreton Bay people would not hesitate to pay the expense incurred, seeing that the money had been expended exclusively on their account. (Hear, hear.) The committee had examined Mr.Bligh from the Clarence, than whom a more efficient officer could not be found; and that gentleman told them that a particular reason for continuing the force in the Clarence was that the scrub was so dense in that district as to render it impossible for the ordinary police force to track the offending blacks to their haunts. As to Moreton Bay, he would mention that he had been told that the blacks had been accustomed to attack and rob drays within thirty miles of Brisbane. (Hear, hear.) There could be no doubt but that the native police ought to be a pioneer corps ; and as years advanced, doubtless, those forces which were stationed in the Clarence and the Macleay might be dispensed with, and it was with the view to having forces drawn from localities where they were not required, and placed in positions where their services were in requisi­tion, that it was proposed to place the corps under the charge of a commandant. In the Northern District the larger force was required for this reason, that as there were larger tracts of unlocated country there, the frontier was necessarily larger. As to the remark that no schedule was appended to the report, the committee refrained from fixing salaries or general amounts because they believed that that was a matter purely Executive. For himself, he was not prepared to give a high salary, believing that, in this as in other matters, they ought to study economy. In his opinion £500 a year was sufficient for the commandant. In conclusion, he hoped the House would adopt the re port, or, at all events, only postpone its adoption to a future occasion.                                                               

Mr FORSTER said he rose principally for the purpose of addressing himself to the amendment pro­posed  by the  hon.   member for New England. He thought the hon. member who moved and the hon. member who supported the amendment, had shown their ignorance of the country on which the amendment was founded. The arguments of the honorable member for New England also proved that he was unacquainted with the evidence  on which the report was founded. The native police force was found to be necessary in frontier districts, but there must be great difficulty in knowing where the frontier ceases. That was the case — especially in the country of the Clarence, since it possessed the character of a frontier and settled district. He took it for granted that the hon. member had not  read the report or considered the number of rapes and serious offences which it was stated in the evidence had been committed, or he never would have said that he considered the native police force were unnecessary in the Clarence. It was a singular fact that a great num­ber of rapes had been committed, more even than had been mentioned in the report. The country of the northern districts was so  cut up by scrub that the settlers were in a manner isolated from one  another, and it was impossible for them to  render each other assistance. This became more the marked character of the country as they advanced further north, and therefore rendered it necessary that this force should not  be removed suddenly. He confessed he was of opinion that the blacks were civilised, but  he had come to the conclusion after having heard the   evidence, and from his know­ledge after eight years residence there, that the blacks were not civilised, and that they continued to meet in numbers; consequently it would not be safe  to with­draw the force. If the hon. member for Murrurnbidgee had read the evidence of  Commissioner Bligh, he would have found in  reference to the outrages, that they were committed by the blacks in passing through the country in large numbers. He thought it was therefore distinctly proved that  the  blacks were not in the quiet state the hon member supposed them  to be. The hon. member had talked of catching one or two  blacks and  punishing them;      but he contended that it was almost im­possible to catch wild blacks unless some strata­gem was put in force. He knew that within 200 yards of where the quarter sessions  were held  there was a scrub in which 50 blacks might be concealed, and he defied any police to  put  them out without the assist­ance of blacks. He thought  he  had said enough to show that the proposal of withdrawing the force would be an act of great injustice to  the settlers. With re­gard to the general character of the  native police, he had little to say. He thought those speakers who had insisted on the necessity of the force had gone too far, because he knew that the squatters would take up the country whether there were native police or not   They had done it before, and he believed they would do it again. No doubt a properly organized force would be a preventative to outrages and the spilling of the blood of the blacks and whites. He must say that up to the present time the Native Police had been al­most an useless force, through the   mismanagement of the late Government. He thought the irregularities that had been committed by the commandant were not greater than the irregularities of the old Government, and many of the representative members who supported the reports of the commandant and attacked those who wished to expose the irregularities of the commandant. Although he substantially agreed with   the report, there were one or two points in which he was inclined He thought the salary proposed for the commandant was too high, but he did not insist on this. As honorable  members  had expressed a wish for an adjournment of the debate he would not oppose it, but he was prepared to go on with the consideration of the subject.

Mr. COWPER said a suggestion had been thrown out that the debate should be adjourned. He thought this was a most important matter, and  as hon. Members had not had time to consider it, he would beg to debate be adjourned until Tuesday next.

Mr. EGAN supported the motion for adjournment. He considered that hon. members should have time to take into consideration the evidence which it had been stated would show the horrid crimes that had been committed. It was  even proved that the blacks had stolen corn and pumpkins,  and  they had also been told that horrid murders had taken place some time ago.

Mr. BUCKLEY and Mr. ROBERTSON opposed the adjournment.

Mr. MARKS supported the adjournment, on the ground that the Assessment Act had not yet been passed, which he conceived conceived naturally affected this question.

The motion for the adjournment of the debate was then put and carried.

21 Oct 1857 Killings of Aborigines by Native Troopers


Act 9: Further amendment of the law on Aborigines and evidence

An Act for the further amendment of the Law of Evidence (22 Vic. No. 7) 25 August 1858: (communication between spouses privileged). (Mc)

 Index to Parliamentary Proceedings (documents to come)

2nd Parliament:

14 April 1858 Outrages by Aborigines Crown Lands Commissioners

17 April 1858 Woodlark Island Massacres

4 May 1858 Murders, Dawson River

26 May, 16 June 1858 Letter, Brisbane, Native Police

14 July 1858 Native Police Expense, Bathurst

14 July 1858] Murder of Aborigines

15 July 1858] Murders by Aborigines

18 Aug 1858] Native Police

28 August 1858] Woodlark Island Massacres

[9 Sept 1858] Sentences on Aborigines

[15 Sept 1858] Aborigines Right to Vote [1] Act does not refer to Aborigines, but see “Aborigines right to vote”, 15th September 1858 and “Electoral rights of aborigines” 15th October 1859.

Select Committee, murders by Aborigines, Dawson River

Checklist of Royal Commissions Select Committees of Parliament and Boards of Inquiry, Index NSW 1855-1960; "49. SC on murders by the aborigines on the Dawson River; Report, together with the proceedings ... , minutes of evidence, and Appendix (15.6.1858) (3.8.1858) NSW Pp. (v.2) 843-909

Go to 1858 New South Wales Legislative Assembly, Report from the Select Committee on Murders by the Aborigines on the Dawson River

Murders in Northern Districts were attributed to inevitable collisions between aborigines and settlers opening a new tract of country, aggravated by the inefficiency of the Native Police Force and the mountainous and scrubby nature of the district.

Recommendations in the Report are concerned with supplementing the Native Police Force with mounted troopers, and recruitment and reorganization of the Force.

Any attempt to wage a war of extermination against the aborigines is repudiated by the SC.

SC on murders by the aborigines on the Dawson River; Report, together with the proceedings ..., minutes of evidence, and appendix. (15.6.1858) (3.8.1858) NSW Pp. 1858 (v.2) 843-909  Members: A.Hodgson,  H.Buckley,  C.Cowper, B.Cribb,  S.A.Donaldson,  W.Forster,  R.Jones,  J.Richardson,  T.W.Smith,  W.T.Taylor. 

Go to: New South Wales Legislative Assembly, 1858. Report from the Select Committee on Murders by the Aborigines on the Dawson River. 498.24KB (510200 bytes)

“Retrospective examination of title was no longer necessary”

“In the fifties, the nature of Australian land problems changed ... the new squatters who, since 1847, had obtained a permanent hold on colonial lands ... had security and were attempting to convert it into a monopoly ... ‘The territory of a country is in reality the property of its occupiers, which the nominees of the Crown administer advantageously only as they facilitate its settlement and culture’ ... ‘the Legislative Council in each State was allowed to draft the regulations under the 1846 Imperial Act’ ... ‘The old control was repealed by 18 and 19 Vic., c.56 1855’ ... ‘In 1848, however, just as the five States were considering Acts for small settlers, South Australia passed the ‘Real Property Act’ ... ‘At an official registry, the certificate of title was to be registered with all the apposite transactions appearing on the face of the certificate ... if no impediment were found, the Land Titles Commissioners would ... issue certificates ... It was cheap, for retrospective examination of title was no longer necessary’ ...( it was to) ‘deal with real estate as if it were a chattel ‘...”

Manhood suffrage

"NSW. – Establishment of manhood suffrage and vote by ballot ... the population of Australia reached 1,000,000." [4]


Parliamentary Votes and Proceedings, 3rd Parliament, Aboriginal natives and the Electoral List

February 18th 1859

“In answer to a question from Mr. Flood, the COLONIAL SECRETARY said, it was the opinion of the ATTORNEY-GENERAL, that aboriginal natives not qualified to give evidence in a court of justice, were not entitled to have their names inserted in any Electoral List, and to vote for members of Parliament. [6]


Parliamentary Votes and Proceedings, Commandant of Native Police

22 Sept 1859


Mr RICHARDSON moved 'That an address be presented to the Governor-general, praying that His Excellency will be pleased to lay upon the table of this House any correspondence that may have taken place between the Colonial Secretary and the Commandant of the Native Police, relative to certain charges preferred by H.C. Corfield, esq., against the latter gentleman.' The honorable member believed this return would show that the charges preferred against the Commandant were rather of a grave nature, and that the officer had been guilty of gross negligence of duty. When investigating the matter it should have been the duty of Government to call upon M. Corfield to substantiate his charges which course apparently was not pursued. He always sought to keep up the character of that force for protection of life and property, but at the same time he was anxious that the head of the force should be as efficient as possible. 

Mr. WILSON seconded the motion.

Mr. COWPER apprehended that the correspondence referred to took place towards the end of the year 1857. He believed that the result of the enquiry and correspondence had ended in the force being better organised and managed, a great deal of the merit of which was die to Captain Morrisset himself. When he (Mr. Cowper) first took office he found great complainnts in reference to this police force, and the subject was one of long correspondence with the resident at moreton Bay; but for some time past no complaints had been made. The force was now in an efficient state, and he did think that events of such long standing as those alluded to in the correspondence would have been allowed to pass over. However, the Government had no objection to place the correspondence on the table.

The motion was put and agreed to."  


Parliamentary Votes and Proceedings, firing upon Blacks at Breakfast Creek

22 Sept 1859


Mr. CAMPBELL said he was about to give notice of a question, unless the hon. gentleman at the head of the Government was prepared to answer it at once. It was: 'Whether the Government had taken any steps to ascertain who were the parties that fired on the blacks at Breakfast Creek, in the district of Moreton Bay, thereby killing a woman and wounding several children?'

Mr. COWPER said he was prepared to answer the question at once. The Government received a communication by the last mail in reference to this atrocious act, together with the information that a 50 pound reward had been offered. By the return mail he (Mr. C) had confirmed the steps taken by the Government Resident to discover the offenders."

6 Oct 1859] Crown Lands Commissioner, Grafton


Colonial Parliament, Votes and Proceedings; electoral rights of aborigines

October 15th 1859


Mr MORRIS moved "That there be laid on the table of this House any correspondence between the Government and its advisers relevant to the rights of aboriginal natives to exercise the electoral franchise ... whether in the opinion of the law Officers of the Crown that the aboriginal natives, who were not qualified to give evidence in Court, were entitled to have their names inserted in the voting Lists, and vote in the elections of Members of Parliament. It was then stated to be the opinion of Mr Lutwych that because they had no fixed abode or habitation they were not able to exercise the franchise. But there was no doubt a serious difficulty existed, as by the ninth (section) of the Electoral Act it was clear that every male subject of her majesty of the full age of twenty-one years and natural born, or who, being a naturalised subject and have resided in this colony for three years, shall be qualified as in this section is provided, and not disqualified or incapacitated (as any cause) hereinafter specified, be entitled to vote in an election for the electoral district in respect of which they be so qualified. That being the case, when the Electoral Roll came to be made out the magistrates would have great difficulty, for if the collector did not give (a vote) to the aborigines, who in some electorates were the most numerous portion of the inhabitants, he (Mr Morris) apprehended the magistrates would not be able to (...? obscured) collectors as they had not performed their duties, as the collectors were allowed to exercise their discretion by putting in or leaving out any portion of the (population) they might consider disqualified by absence of permanent residence; the squatters, who wandered about nearly as much as the aborigines, might be omitted from franchise, in fact nearly all the electors in the pastoral districts moved about within their district at least once a year. ..... the Attorney-General’s opinion did not appear to be a very matured on; and he (Mr Morris) was of the opinion that the difficulty he had pointed out would make it necessary to bring in a short Act to disqualify the aborigines if under the present Act they were not disqualified. Were he to elicit some discussion upon this matter, he would move the motion standing in his name....

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL said that there was no objection to produce this correspondence if any existed. Having made enquiries for it, he could find there was no opinion of the Crown that was recorded, or any correspondence in reference to it. There had, he believed, been a verbal statement by the former Attorney-General. He would ... search for any such documents, and if he found any such thing he would lay them before the House. ...

Mr. MORRIS: Will the hon. And learned member give the House the benefit of his opinion? The ATTORNEY-GENERAL: I have not (?obscured) it. The motion was then put, and affirmed by the House." [5]  


"Steadily but surely the dark tribes died out"

"Steadily surely the dark tribes died out, till the census of 1861 showed only 1694 of them still alive (Victoria)..."[7]



Parliamentary Votes and Proceedings (to come)

24 Feb 1860] Richmond

11 April 1860] Casino

19 April 1860] Clarence

2 June 1860] Aboriginal Outrages, New England [16 June 1860]


Camping with the Blacks

[4 April, 1861 Vagrants Camping with Aborigines ) 

April 11 1861, (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Mr. BUCHANAN asked the Colonial Secretary 'If he would give him any idea when the depositions in the case of the two men imprisoned for one year for camping with aborigines would be laid upon the table of this House?'

Mr. COWPER laid the papers on the table, and they were ordered to be printed."

Crown Lands Alienation Bill and provision for aborigines 

Their massacre and scattering by Native Police Troopers enables a clear passage for the 1862  Robertson Crown Lands Act, with its land grab provision, free selection before survey.

 April 17th 1861

Mr. JOHNSON said that “..... the object of legislation was to allow the resources of a country to develop themselves naturally which they would do unless they were thwarted by legislation ...  country like this (had been) unfettered by any species of legislation ... His hon. Friend (Mr. Deas Thomson) had told the House of the immense tracts of  country which at this moment were not put to any use whatsoever. In the settled districts of this country there were 12,700,000 acres of land unalienated from the Crown; in the intermediate districts there were 13,000,000 acres; and in the unsettled districts there were 123,000,000 acres, making a total of 149,000,000 acres which, under the present regulations were open to any person who chose to comply with those regulations ... We were in this immense territory, with all these 190,000,000 millions of acres of land used for nothing whatever .... occupied by a population not exceeding 30,000 persons .... the regulations with regard to free selection prohibited (them) from taking land in the vicinity of townships ... He trusted that the provisions of the Act would ... render the tenure of those holding run secure ...

The SECRETARY FOR LANDS said .... that this principle of free selection before survey, of occupancy, of settlement, and of purchase was provided for in the land law ... Those who objected to the small settlers picking out the eyes of the country, had no objection to the squatters doing the same thing. The squatters enjoyed the right of free selection before survey, and years after the settlements were made the surveyor went to measure the land ... the Government had found out at last, that whilst they had the richest pastoral and agricultural country in the world – a country that was also richer in gold than any other on the face of the globe – they had yet a population in it many of whom were actually on the brink of starvation from being cooped up in the city .... in his opinion, it had been the operation of the present land laws that had been the primary cause of this destitution ... The hon. Member, Mr Holden, next complained that the bill contained no provision for the native blacks. Now, what he would ask, had the question of the alienation and occupation of Crown Lands, to do with the native blacks? He was quite willing to do as much as he could for the native blacks, but what was to be done for them had nothing to do with the settlement of the land question.  He would, however, tell the hon. Member that if provision were to be made for these poor people, it must be made in kind; it was not to be done by setting land aside for them for them that they will never occupy. Hon. Members knew full well that this plan had already been tried, and that even if the land were there for them, they had no means of making it available, and no capacity for making proper use of it. If they were to be assisted, it must be done by making a proper provision for them ... Let them only look at the result would be were he to follow all the suggestions offered. Some hon. Members were under the impression required to have provision made for the blacks ... others for immigration and others for the clergy. If all these were provided for in the bill he need hardly tell them what its fate would be; and if he desired to see its rejection he need only adopt all these suggestions that had been

offered ...(&c., &c.)” [8]


Parliamentary Votes and Proceedings

4th Parliament: 

11, 17 April 1861


Parliamentary Votes and Proceedings, blankets for aborigines

28 Sept 1861


Mr. DANGAR moved for returns relative to the annual distribution of blankets to the aborigines, who, the honorable member asserted, had been unfairly dealt with in many cases, the blankets having been often distributed too late in the season, and sometimes seen on the beds of magistrates and constables.

Mr. MARKHAM called on the honorable member to name the parties he accused.

Mr. DANGAR did not allude to any person in New England. He had not been an eye-witness - he had merely been informed of the circumstances in question. 

Mr. HARPUR had heard from competent authority, that the issue of blankets to the blacks was one of the causes of their declining numbers.

Mr. WEEKES had no other objection to the return than the trouble and expense it would involve. The number of blankets issued this year was double that in former years.

Mr. DANGAR having replied, the motion was passed without division." 

This document was the first of two new laws which transformed land ownership in New South Wales, and which were followed by similar laws in other colonies. This Act provided for the alienation of land and the complementary Act provided for the occupation of land.

In 1861, the powerful Premier of New South Wales, John Robertson, was determined to break the long-established monopoly of the squatter-pastoralists in land-holding in the colony. He forced two Acts through the Parliament, opening up free selection of Crown land by permitting any person to select up to 320 acres, on the condition of paying a deposit of one-quarter of the purchase price after survey, and of living on the land for three years.

Robertson intended to give poorer purchasers access to land and to increase farming and agricultural development in New South Wales. Great conflicts between the squatters and the selectors ensued, and corruption and scheming in acquiring land became rife.

Although the success of their goals was questionable, these Acts had a powerful impact in the ownership and use of vast regions of the Colony (and, in the eyes of some, thereby also encouraging bushranging). In enabling close settlement of pastoral lands still available for use by Aboriginal people, the Acts further limited the lands and economy of the first occupants. They also permanently weakened the political power of the pastoralist class in Australia.

[10 Jan 1862] Aboriginal Boy in Custody

b) Imperial Statutes Bignold Vol 1 p 35




Sale of alcohol to Aborigines illegal

Sale of Liquors Licensing Act 1862 (25 Vic. No. 14) 20 January 1862 (Repealed by Act 25, 1909]: [9]


Torrens title

"NSW. – Real Property (Torrens) Act passed." [10]



 Fifth Parliament

See: Index to Parliamentary Debates (Sydney Morning Herald) 22/2/66


Legislative Council

Aborigines and Alcohol; petition 22/2/66

Legislative Council proceedings: Petition, supply of Intoxicating Liquors to Aborigines

February 2nd


Mr. CHISOLM presented a petition, the object of which was to prevent the supply of liquors to aborigines.

Petition received.” [11]



James (later Sir James) MARTIN, Premier                22.01.66 - 26.10.68


Fifth Parliament

See: Index to Parliamentary Debates (Sydney Morning Herald) 13/11/67-12/12/67


Legislative Assembly

Supply of Intoxicating Liquors to Aborigines; m. 13/11/67; petition 15/11/67

Supply of Intoxicating Liquor to Aborigines Bill; l r. 16/11/67; com. 16/11/67; 2 r. 25/11/67; 3 r. 27/11/67

Legislative Council      

Supply of Intoxicating Liquor to Aborigines; petition 14/11/67.

Abolition of Capital Punishment (refers to Aborigines); 15/11/67

Supply of Intoxicating Liquors to Aborigines Bill; 1 r. 5/12/67 2 r. 5/12/67; ad. rep. 6/12/67; com. 6/12/67; 3 r. 12/12/67


Legislative Assembly votes and proceedings: Petition, supply of Intoxicating Liquors to Aborigines

November 13th 1867

“Mr. S. D. GORDON presented a petition from the moderator and clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales, praying that the law might be so amended as to prevent any sale or supply of intoxication liquors to the aborigines.

The petition was received.” [12]


Legislative Assembly proceedings: Supply of Intoxicating Drinks to Aboriginals

November 13th 1867

“Mr. PHELPS moved as a ‘formal’ motion,-‘That this House will, on Tuesday next, resolve itself into a committee of the whole, for the consideration of the propriety of introducing a bill to prohibit the supply of intoxicating liquors to the aboriginal natives of New South Wales in any quantity that shall produce intoxication.’

Mr. JOSEPHSON having seconded the motion, it was put and agreed to.” [13]


Legislative Assembly proceedings: Petition, supply of Intoxicating Drinks  to Aborigines

November 15th 1867

“A petition, from the moderator of the Presbyterian Synod, praying for the re-imposition of the prohibition upon the supply of intoxicating drinks to the aborigines, was ordered to be received.” [14]


Legislative Assembly votes and proceedings: Debate, Abolition of Capital Punishment

November 15th 1867

Mr. HAY said that ... He believed the punishment of death ought only to be carried out when criminals had shown themselves to be particularly dangerous ... or in cases when it became necessary to set a great example. Then it would be a cruelty to the great mass of people to allow the guilty to escape ... He believed that capital punishment had a deterring effect – that it had prevented crime from resulting in enormous slaughter. He recollected when he had arrived in the country many years ago, how little regard was paid to value of the lives of the aborigines, but a terrible example was made – a terrible example. Many blamed the Governor, Sir George Gipps – many blamed that those men should have been placed a second time on their trial, and seven men executed; but it was a great example, one needed, and since that time the aborigines have been safe. Since that time there had been another crime, and in a neighbouring colony too, and if such examples were made as the Government of that day had set, we should hear of them no more ...” [15]


Legislative Assembly votes and proceedings: Supply of Intoxicating Liquors to Aborigines

November 16th 1867

“On the motion of Mr. PHELPS, the House went into Committee of the whole to consider the propriety of introducing a bill to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors to the aboriginal natives of New South Wales in any quantity that shall produce intoxication.

Mr. PHELPS moved a resolution affirming the desirability of introducing the bill ... the second reading of the bill was made an Order of the Day for Friday next.” [16]


Legislative Assembly votes and proceedings: Supply of Intoxicating Liquors to Aborigines Bill

November 25th 1867


Mr. PHELPS, in moving the second reading of this bill, said he thought its object was one that would commend itself to all who knowing anything of the native blacks had observed the great change that had come over them since the last Amendment of the Publicans’ Licensing Act, which took place about seven years ago. The present bill was merely a copy of portion of an Act existing before that time, the provisions of which were omitted from the Publicans’ Licensing Act ... he had thought it necessary to re-enact only that portion of the previously exiting law as it had worked well. He scarcely need allude to the evils sought to be remedied, but he might first say that a fine tribe of blacks in the extreme south-western country, whose services were previously valuable in pastoral and grazing occupations, had become almost useless since the change. They would get spirits at the public-houses, carry them into the camps, and there getting furiously drunk, and lapsing into their native savagery, break into murderous riot, killing their gins and throwing each other on the fire. He had long thought of introducing this measure,  ... he ... asked for the assent of the House to the bill before it ...

Dr. LANG believed the necessity for this bill had arisen from the omission in the Publicans’ Licensing Act of a clause forbidding the supply of intoxicating liquors to the black aborigines. The change that since that since this prohibition had been removed had in the far west come over these people was very evident and exceedingly deplorable. Previously those on the Darling and other portions of the far west were accustomed to labour tending flocks and doing useful work about the stations in that part of the country. But all this had been discontinued  since the omission in the present Act, admitting the supply of intoxicating liquors to the aborigines. The number of outrages they committed had increased, and it was therefore necessary in a high degree in that part of the country that such a measure as this should be passed. Fortunately in the eastern portion of the colony there was little need for such legislation. He thought it would be necessary to alter some of the terms of the bill so as to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors to the blacks, instead of leaving it open to a legal cavil what amounts may be deemed intoxicating.

Mr. J. STEWART said that the bill would be quite inoperative; no one would enforce its provisions. It would not do any good and possibly might do some harm. Some aboriginal might be found in a state of intoxication, and if there was a public-house in the neighbourhood some informer might swear that he got the liquor there, or from some adjacent farmer. But if it was thought that the bill was necessary for the aborigines it would require alteration so as to apply not only to aboriginal blacks, but also to natives in general. The white men of this colony had committed as many atrocious outrages as the blacks in proportion to their numbers, and theirs were less excusable. The assertion in the preamble – ‘Whereas, the supplying of intoxicating liquors to the aboriginal natives in New South Wales is productive of serious mischief’, would be quite as true without the word ‘aboriginal’ as with it. Then, again, how were you to know what amount was intoxicating? A person might give a black a nobbler, not knowing he had two or three before, and it would be hard lines if he were punished for this. An aboriginal had as much necessity for a little cordial as a white man, and, in some circumstances, it was necessary to enable them to perform their duty. There was no good to done by over legislation. He was disposed to vote against this bill, because he regarded it as useless – a measure which would only encumber the Statute-book to no purpose.

Mr. WILSON said that he would vote for the second reading of the bill ... He thought that the rapid disappearance of the blacks from the populous parts of the colony was owing to the effect of rum; and he considered that as the whites had introduced this firewater it was our bounden duty to protect these unfortunate creatures, who were not sufficiently educated to comprehend the dreadful evils which would fall upon them and their tribe by drinking intoxicating liquors. He knew that the white natives of the colony were, as a body, very temperate, and the natives of the second generation were a wonderfully sober people. The climate, he thought, was favourable to temperance, and he had no doubt that the people of New South Wales would become remarkable for their temperate habits ...

Mr. HART animadverted ton an observation made by the hon. Member for Illawarra The evils resulting from the sale of these liquors were of very great magnitude, and he thought that we ought to do all that lay in our power to ameliorate the present condition of the aborigines in this respect ...

Mr. LUCAS took exception to the statement that the bill was in any way needed for the protection of the natives of the colony, other than aboriginals.

Mr. FORSTER did not think that the natives of the colony required such elaborate vindication of their character as the hon. member who had just sat down had entered upon; for he thought that the remarks of the hon. member for Wollongong were only intended as a joke. (Hear, hear.) The hon. member evidently only intended a joke, and the matter was scarcely worth mentioning in a serious way ... he agreed with (the hon. member for Illawarra) in thinking that there would be great difficulty in accomplishing the object intended. We were, however, bound to try and accomplish it ... was customary for employers of labour to give spirits to their servants; and it was not likely that employers would make a difference between white and aboriginal labourers. The decay of inferior races before superior was one of those physiological facts which had never been accounted for, and it seemed to be the inevitable result whenever they came into contact. He believed that that effect would take place if thee were no spirituous liquors; but as there were some grounds for believing that this decay was more rapid by these liquors being supplied to them, he thought it was his duty to support he second reading of the bill.

Mr. TIGHE, referring to the remarks of the hon. Member for Illawarra, said the manner of the hon. Member clearly indicated that he was speaking in jest, and although it may have been indiscreet in the hon. Member to jest in the way he did, no one who had heard him could suppose for a moment that he was speaking in earnest. With regard to the bill before the House, he thought it was quite right that the Legislature should take care of the aborigines, as they were mere children and unable to take care of themselves. He did not think it would be advisable to strike out the words which the hon. Minister for Lands proposed to admit, as, in that case, anyone giving a glass of colonial wine to an aboriginal would be liable to a penalty of 10 pounds. There were many aboriginal blacks who were domesticated and living on stations, and he thought it would not be right to debar anyone from giving to one of these domesticated blacks a glass of wine or porter in case of sickness. It would be sufficient, he thought, to debar anyone from giving to an aboriginal sufficient liquor to make him intoxicated, or to  give it to him while he was intoxicated ... It was the opinion of some people that a glass of wine or spirits was necessary to people when they were undergoing severe privations, and if necessary for a white man, why should a black man be debarred from it? Under this bill as proposed to be amended, a person on  a station would be debarred from giving a black woman, after childbirth, when she might require nourishment, a bottle of porter or ale ...

The motion was put and agreed to, and the bill read a second time.

Upon the motion of Mr. PHELPS, the House went into committee to consider the bill in detail.

Clause1. ‘If any person shall sell, supply, or give any liquor, fermented or spirituous, or any mixed liquor partly fermented or partly spirituous, in any quantity which shall produce intoxication to any aboriginal native of New South Wales, he shall, for every offence, forfeit and pay .... a penalty not exceeding 10 pounds.’

Mr. STEWART stated that that his remarks upon this bill, which were only given in jest, had been misrepresented. He had no feeling against the bill, nor did he intend to oppose it.

Mr. WILSON proposed to omit the words “in any quantity which will produce intoxication’ with a view to the insertion of the words ‘except for medicinal purposes.’

Mr FORSTER contended that spirits were required by some persons in certain circumstances, not only for curative purposes but for strengthening purposes, and he did not see why a blackfellow should be debarred from taking spirits when their use would be beneficial. In cases of snake bite, for instance, spirits were used as one of the most powerful remedies, and under this bill persons would be debarred from administering spirits to a blackfellow in such a case. (No, no.)

Mr. WILSON said a powerful argument against the remarks of the hon. Member was, that intoxicating drink was an evil that the white man had introduced. There would be some force in the hon. Member’s argument if blackfellows had been accustomed to drink spirits before the white men came here, but they had not. Black doctors never gave spirits, and a blackfellow, when ill, rarely applied to a white man for assistance. Indeed they had a superstition that no assistance would be available to them; hence, when ill, the course they usually took was to lie down and die. ...

It was then proposed to insert the words ‘except for medicinal purposes.’

Mr. HART was of the opinion that the proposition would lead to an evasion of the Act ... the proposed amendment was put and negatived ... On the motion of Mr. HART the following words were added to the end of the clause: ‘provided that nothing herein contained shall prevent the sale of any of the said liquors to any aboriginal for medicinal purposes only ... The bill was reported with amendments, and the report was adopted. The third reading was made an order of the day for Tuesday next.” [17]


Legislative Council votes and proceedings: Supply of Liquor to aborigines

November 27th 1867


The PRESIDENT reported a message from the Assembly, covering a bill to prohibit the supply of intoxication drink to aborigines.

Mr. LORD moved that the bill be read a first time.

The bill was read, and the second reading made the Order of the Day for Wednesday next.” [18]


Legislative Council votes and proceedings: supply of intoxicating drink to aborigines

November 28th 1867

“In the Legislative Council, yesterday ... The Bill to prohibit the supply of intoxicating drink to aborigines was brought up from the Assembly, and read the first time on the motion of Mr. LORD.” [19]


Legislative Council votes and proceedings: Liquor to aborigines

December 5th 1867


Mr. LORD moved the House into committee for the consideration of the Supply of Intoxicating Liquors to Aborigines Bill.

The House went into committee, and the bill was agreed to.

The bill was reported without amendment, the report was adopted, and the third reading fixed for the next sitting day.” [20]


Legislative Council votes and proceedings: Intoxicating drinks to aborigines

December 6th 1867


Mr. LORD moved that the bill to prohibit the supply of intoxicating drinks to aborigines be read a second time. He thought it a most desirable measure, and it had been passed unanimously in the other House.

Mr. DOCKER did not desire to oppose the bill, but expressed some apprehension that it would not be found effective.

The question was put and carried.

The bill was read a second time, and ordered for committal for tomorrow.” [21]


Legislative Council votes and proceedings: Intoxicating Liquors Bill

December 12th 1867


On the motion of Mr. LORD, seconded by Sir WILLIAM MANNING, the Supply of Intoxicating Liquors to Aborigines Bill was read a third time, passed, and ordered to be returned to the Legislative Assembly without amendment.” [22]


Supply of liquors to Aborigines illegal

Supply of Liquors to Aborigines Prevention Act  1867 (31 Vic. No. 14) 20 January 1862 [Repealed by Act 25, 1909] (Sale etc forbidden.) (Mc)



Fifth Parliament

Index to Parliamentary Debates (Sydney Morning Herald) 9/1/68



Legislative Council      

Supply of Intoxicating Liquors to Aborigines Bill; assent 9/1/68




Fifth Parliament

Index to Parliamentary Debates (Sydney Morning Herald) 13/11/67-12/12/67



Legislative Assembly

Aborigines in Darling District, Annual Report on the State; tab. Pap.10/2/69


Legislative Council      

Aborigines in the Darling District, Report; tab. Pap. 12/3/69




"Unsworn evidence in courts of law ..."

"It was not, in fact, until 1876 that the Aborigines of New South Wales attained the right to give unsworn evidence in courts of law." ( Report of Legislative Council proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  29 June 1849, in Woolmington, Jean, op cit (Page 144-145).        

An Act for the further amendment of the Law of Evidence, 1878

40 Victoria, No. 8: An Act for the further amendment of the Law of Evidence. [14 August, 1876], (Section 3 enables Aboriginal people to give unsworn evidence in Court.)





[2] Act does not refer to Aborigines, but see Parliamentary Debate, April 17th 1861, Crown Lands Alienation Bill and provision for aborigines.


[3] Sydney Morning Herald Report, Parliament of New South Wales Legislative Assembly Proceedings, 29/1/1857


[4] Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia (No. 47, 1961, Page 1197)


[5], Sydney Morning Herald, Reports of Colonial Parliamentary Proceedingss, 15/10/1859, (see also 18/2/1859)


[6] Sydney Morning Herald Report, Colonial Parliament Legislative Assembly, 18/2/59

 Sydney Morning Herald Report, Colonial Parliament Legislative Assembly, 22/9/59

[7] Whitworth. Mr R.P.; The Treatment of the Aboriginals-1838 to 1847 in Victoria and Its Metropolis (Melbourne, 1888) Page 251  

[8] Sydney Morning Herald Report, Parliament of New South Wales Legislative Assembly Proceedings, 17/4/1861

[10] Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia (No. 47, 1961, Page 1193)


[11] Report of Legislative Council proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  22/2/1866


[12] Report of Legislative Assembly proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  13/11/1867


[13] Report of Legislative Assembly proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  13/11/1867


[14] Report of Legislative Assembly proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  15/11/1867


[15] Report of Legislative Assembly proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  15/11/1867


[16] Report of Legislative Assembly proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  16/11/1867


[17] Report of Legislative Assembly proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  25/11/1867



141 Report of Legislative Council proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  27/11/1867


[19] Report of Legislative Council proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald  28/11/1967


[20] Report of Legislative Council proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald   5/12/1867


[21] Report of Legislative Council proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald   6/12/1867


[22] Report of Legislative Council proceedings, Sydney Morning Herald   12/12/1867